The human heart pumps blood through the body. Pressure is generated to forcefully push blood through the walls of the arteries, this pressure is called blood pressure. Blood pressure is written as two numbers, for example 112/78 mm Hg (mm Hg= millimeters of mercury).
The top number (112, in our example) is called systolic pressure, and this is pressure when the heart beats. The bottom number (78, in our example) is the pressure when the heart rests between beats). The optimal blood pressure is less than 120mm Hg and 80mm Hg. Therefore, High blood pressure means the pressure in the arteries is elevated.
Normally, the heart beats regularly pumping blood through the vessels all over the body. As the blood is pushed by the heartbeat, the blood in turn pushes against the sides of the vessels. Blood vessels are flexible and can be widen or constrict as needed to keep the blood flowing. For a variety of reasons, blood may begin to push too hard against the blood vessels. This is high blood pressure.
Why should you be concerned about high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is very dangerous! It makes the heart work too hard and the high force of the blood flow could damage the blood vessels, heart, kidneys, eyes and other organs in the body causing severe health problems
Debunking Myths About High Blood Pressure
#1. High blood pressure runs in my family and there’s nothing I can do about it, I will get it too.
It is true that high blood pressure can run in a family and that a history of high blood pressure places one at risk of developing high blood pressure as well. Regardless of family history, lifestyle choices could help you avoid high blood pressure.
#2. People with high blood pressure have symptoms like headaches, sweating & difficulty sleeping. I don’t have those symptoms so I must not have high blood pressure
High blood pressure is a ‘silent killer’, it has no symptoms so you may not be aware that it’s damaging your arteries, heart and other organs. Don’t make a mistake assuming that symptoms will alert you of high blood pressure, instead, everyone should makes efforts to check their blood pressure and know their numbers.
#3. Stress and anxiety can cause hypertension
There is no scientific proof that stress leads to high blood pressure. .However, .If one is already diagnosed with high blood pressure then stressful situations can temporarily elevate one’s blood pressure.
Ways of Preventing High Blood Pressure.
- Eat a better diet which includes reducing salt intake. Stick to the D-A-S-H eating plan.
- DASH means Dietary-Approaches-to-Stop-Hypertension. Thus eating plan was designed by the National Institute of Health, USA. The DASH plan includes less saturated fat (such as palm oil) and less total fat, less beef and pork, as well as eating more fruits and vegetables, fat free/low fat milk, more fish, more poultry, more beans and whole grain foods.
- Limiting the use of salt and alcohol can also help lower or prevent high blood pressure.
- If possible, meet with a dietician or nutritionist to help you figure out a better and healthier eating plan
- Exercise: exercise or enjoy a regular physical activity, make sure you do this at least 30 minutes per day
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases the risk of high blood pressure
- Manage stress. The chemicals in the body responses to stress that makes your heart beat harder or faster and your blood vessels tighten.
- Avoid tobacco smoke- including cigarettes, cigars and all forms of tobacco
- Limit the use of alcohol
- If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, take your medications according to your doctor’s prescription
Author Zaidat Ibrahim
Zaidat gained her Bachelors Degree from a U.S College and she currently works at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston. She also works as an Editor for Opportunity Desk and volunteers for several organizations through the UNV. She is known for her hard work, commitment and most of all, her beaming smiles.