What Is Normal Blood Pressure?
What is normal blood pressure? Normal blood pressure is a reading of 120/80. A high-normal blood pressure reading ranges from 120/80 to 139/89. There are several factors that can affect normal blood pressure. Things like stress, thickness of blood, narrowing of arteries because of fat deposits along the arterial walls, poor diet, decreased blood oxygen, diseases, caffeine, electrolyte imbalances, diabetes mellitus, and obesity all effect blood pressure.
But What Is Blood Pressure?
It is important for people of all ages to watch their blood pressure levels. The reason for this is that many serious health conditions are triggered by high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is the force that the blood flowing around the body’s circulatory system exerts on the walls of blood the vessels. High blood pressure starts when blood vessels become constricted, this causes the heart to beat harder to compensate and force more blood through the tighter space.
This is where the problems can begin. The heart is just like any other muscle in the body, if you put strain on a muscle through working out, it will grow larger. This happens to the heart and it can grow dangerously large.
Our hearts contract rhythmically and pump blood through the arteries to supply oxygen and nutrients to the whole body. During the process, the pressure in the blood vessels changes as the heart is contracting (systole, the higher value) and when it is relaxing or resting in between heartbeats (diastole, the lower value). Both values are significant because it provides us with information as to the resistance the heart has to work against when the blood pressure is high or when it is low.
If normal blood pressure becomes too high, the heart has to work harder to maintain adequate blood flow to our bodies and this often results in health problems. On the other hand, if the blood pressure is low, the heart may not be able to pump an adequate amount of blood around the body to meet it’s needs.
When Blood Pressure Is Abnormal
Now that you know what is normal blood pressure, let’s look in detail at the factors that can cause it to be abnormal.
Ideally, every person wants to have a normal blood pressure but there will be times when this will either drop or increase depending upon the person’s lifestyle, occupation or activities. Some factors that influence the change in pressure could be either be manageable to some but could also be harmful to others. A drop or a rise in blood pressure is indicative of something that a person needs to be watchful about.
When blood pressure drops, to some, especially athletes or those who lead a very physical lifestyle, it could be indicative of good cardiovascular health, but it could also be a sign of underlying problems like inadequate blood flow to the heart, brain and other vital organs.
Low Blood Pressure
Health complications can happen when normal blood pressure drops and the brain has not enough blood supply. This can often result to dizziness and commonly happens to someone who rises from a sitting position to standing. This kind of low blood pressure is identified as postural hypotension or neural meditated orthostatic hypotension. This so called hypotension is a failure of the autonomic nervous system (controls the involuntary vital actions like heartbeat and breathing) to respond to sudden changes. When you stand, some blood normally pools in the lower extremities, if not corrected, this could influence the blood pressure to drop so the body has to send messages to the heart to beat faster than normal and also to the blood vessels to constrict. This offsets the fall in blood pressure, otherwise, if this does not occur or will occur so slowly, the person will suffer postural hypotension.
Several factors are associated with the cause of low blood pressure like pregnancy, over-the-counter medications, hormonal problems like hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, diabetes mellitus, or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), heart attack, irregular heart beat, dilation of the blood vessels, sun stroke, and liver disease.
A sudden drop from normal blood pressure can be a threat to one’s life. This can occur is someone experiences, severe dehydration from vomiting, diarrhea, or fever, severe allergic reactions, a reaction to medication or alcohol, sever blood infection, or sepsis, heart muscle disease causing heart failure, high body temperature, low body temperature, and loss of blood from bleeding.
High Blood Pressure
On the other hand, when there is a sustained rise above the normal blood pressure range a the person will suffer hypertension or high blood pressure. A blood pressure level of 140/90 mm Hg or above is considered high. Hypertension is very dangerous because it overworks the heart and may contribute to the hardening of the arteries. It also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke and could also complicate other conditions like congestive heart failure, blindness, and kidney diseases. Extremely high blood pressure may lead to some symptoms like severe headaches, fatigue or confusion, dizziness, nausea, chest pains, breathing problems, irregular heartbeat, and blood in the urine.
There are several factors that are associated with the cause of hypertension. These are obesity, smoking, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, stress, high levels of salt intake, vitamin D deficiency, insufficient calcium, potassium, and magnesium consumption, lack of physical activity, aging, some medicines like birth control pills, chronic kidney disease, genetic and family history of hypertension, and adrenal and thyroid problems or tumours.
Maintaining a Normal Blood Pressure
Hypertension may cause one to panic, but it is a treatable condition. Doctors recommend lifestyle changes to alter or lower the blood pressure and these include losing weight, limiting alcohol and caffeine, and exercising or doing physical activities like brisk walking, swimming, dancing, cycling, etc. Regular exercise at least three times a week can reduce your systolic pressure.
Other changes also include stopping cigarette smoking, eating a healthy, low sodium (table salt) diet, and reducing your exposure to stress. These lifestyle modifications are very important in managing hypertension. If these modifications are not enough, your doctor may prescribe one or more anti-hypertensive medications that you may need to take for an extended period of time.
One may also consider taking alternative medicines to alleviate hypertension and sustain a normal blood pressure, these include garlic. Garlic supplements can thin out blood, reducing the ability of blood to clot, a similar effect to aspirin. Using a fish oil supplement that contains both docohexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapatentaenoic acid (EPA) will help lower blood pressure. Folate is a B vitamin needed for the formation of red blood cells and it also has the ability to relax the blood vessels by reducing elevated homocysteine levels. Folic acid supplementation for four weeks could lower the blood pressure levels.
Your basic health is dependant on maintaining a normal blood pressure. It is something worth watching especially as you age.