The pressure of your blood when pushing against the walls of your arteries is known as your blood pressure, and it’s very important for your health to keep it under control. High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) left unchecked can put you at risk for heart disease, stroke, and many problems with your brain, kidneys, and eyes. Half a million deaths in the US in 2018 alone include high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause, and nearly half of adults have it. High blood pressure is treatable, and there are some basic steps you can take to lower blood pressure to avoid its many complications.
If you're dealing with high blood pressure and you live in the Beverly Hills, California area, Dr. Shawn Veiseh offers comprehensive care for this and many other health conditions that are tailored to your convenience.
How blood pressure works
Think of your circulatory system as a complex plumbing system, with the arteries and veins as pipes that run through it. Blood pressure is at its strongest when it leaves your heart (through the aorta, one of the major pipes) and it lessens as the blood moves through the smaller arteries.
The difference in pressure in your various arteries and veins is what keeps your blood moving through your body, maintaining normal blood pressure. Normal pressure is measured using two numbers: systolic, and diastolic. The systolic pressure measures the flow of blood in your arteries when your heart beats, while the diastolic measures the blood flow in your arteries when your heart is at rest. Normal blood pressure with this method is typically 120/80, or 120 systolic pressure over 80 diastolic pressure.
The primary force that moves blood through your circulatory system, normal blood pressure allows for the circulation of oxygen, white blood cells, antibodies, hormones, and insulin throughout the body. In circulating fresh blood it also flushes out toxins, helping to deliver waste products through our kidneys and liver.
Causes of high blood pressure
Your blood pressure changes depending on your activities on a given day, but hypertension means that pressure is consistently higher than normal. Based on 2017 guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association consistently maintaining a blood pressure of 130/80 or higher is considered high blood pressure, and a cause for concern. You usually develop this condition over time, and things like obesity, inactivity, family history, smoking, alcohol abuse, and diabetes can cause it. Without any treatment, you are at much higher risk for heart disease, kidney problems, metabolic syndrome, and dementia.
How you can lower your blood pressure
Fortunately, a combination of lifestyle changes, supplements, and medications can help make the difference in lowering your blood pressure, including:
- Exercise and weight loss: more physical activity with a focus on staying at a healthy weight
- Diet: lower your intake of carbohydrates, refined sugars, and sodium, eat more potassium, and healthy high proteins
- Reduce drinking: exercise moderate drinking (one drink a day for women, two drinks a day for men)
- Quit smoking: smoking can affect your heart rate and blood pressure, as well as damage your blood vessel walls
- Reduce stress: deep breathing, walking, reading a book, or doing other things to help you relax can help ease blood pressure
- Get plenty of rest: a restful night of about 8 hours of sleep on a regular basis reduces blood pressure
- Medications: diuretics, ACE inhibitors, ARBs, and calcium channel blockers can help restore normal blood flow
High blood pressure is preventable and treatable, so if you’re dealing with this condition make an appointment with Dr. Veiseh today to get better.