Blood Pressure is a measure of the strength of the pushing of the blood against the sides of the blood vessels as the heart pumps blood round the body. It is necessary for the heart to be able to pump blood at some amount of pressure in order to pass oxygen, a much-needed vital material in the human body, and energy through food materials round the body. Thus, blood pressure is a normal part of the working processes of the human body.
However, caution should be applied when the pressure at which the heart pumps blood is getting higher than normal. This is because normally, the pressure at which the heart pumps blood is a very great one, and according to 36 Interesting Facts About the Human Heart, the heart pumps blood at a pressure large enough to drive a truck 20 miles a day. So when the pressure starts to exceed this and get higher, great danger is posed to the proper functioning of the heart. This phenomenon whereby the blood pressure gets higher than normal is known as High Blood Pressure.
Just as there is High Blood Pressure, there is also Low Blood Pressure. This is a situation whereby the blood pumps blood at a pressure lower than normal. When the blood pressure is lower than normal, the blood that the heart pumps is unable to travel far through the blood vessels to get to the targeted organs. This is also a serious medical condition.
So, how do you know when you have high or low blood pressure?
How To Measure Blood Pressure
It is practically impossible to know your blood pressure just by feeling it, therefore you have to measure your blood pressure clinically.
Blood pressure is normally measured using a clinical instrument called the Blood Pressure Cuff or Sphygmomanometer.
A typical sphygmomanometer consists of an air pump, a pressure gauge and a rubber cuff. It records blood pressure in units of millimeters of mercury.
The pressure gauge usually records two numbers, one on top of the second. The number on top is called the Systolic Pressure and the one below is called the Diastolic Pressure.
- Systolic Pressure
- This is the blood pressure when the heart contracts while pumping blood. It is the pressure at which the heart pumps blood when it is beating.
- Diastolic Pressure
- This is the blood pressure when the heart is not beating, when it is at rest. It is normally lower than the Systolic Pressure.
So when you record blood pressure and the Systolic pressure is, for example 140 and the Diastolic Pressure is 80, the blood pressure is written as 140/80 mmHg, and is read as 140 over 80 millimeters of mercury.
If you want to measure blood pressure by yourself with a Blood Pressure Cuff, refer to the this article.
Normal Blood Pressure
The normal blood pressure readings for an average healthy adult human system is a systolic pressure of below 120mmHg and a diastolic pressure of below 80mmHg. The blood pressure varies according to the activity being carried out by a person at a time. The blood pressure will increase when you are exercising, and will reduce when you’re asleep.
Also, the blood pressure depends on the age and body size of a human being. Newborn babies will have very low blood pressure readings, which are considered normal for them. An obese person will have blood pressure readings higher than the normal blood pressure.
High Blood Pressure
High Blood Pressure is defined as an abnormal increase in blood pressure when the blood pressure of an individual starts to rise above the normal blood pressure levels of 120/80mmHg. High Blood Pressure is also known as hypertension.
There are two types of High Blood Pressure:
- Primary High Blood Pressure
- This type of High Blood Pressure develops as an individual ages. It is the most common type of high blood pressure.
- Secondary High Blood Pressure
- This type of High Blood Pressure is caused by another medical condition. It occurs in an individual as a result of certain medications or other diseases.
Causes of High Blood Pressure
The following are the common causes of high blood pressure in an individual.
- Large salt intake
- Sleeplessness and lack of exercise
- Alcohol addiction
- Genetics and family history of high blood pressure
- Medical conditions like Kidney Disease, Diabetes, Thyroid diseases, etc.
- Medications like Birth control pills, decongestants, pain relievers, etc.
To keep from having high blood pressure, try to abstain from smoking and heavy alcohol drinking, and get as much physical exercise and you can. Also, try to sleep for at least 8 hours per day, if possible.
Low Blood Pressure
The opposite of High Blood Pressure, Low Blood Pressure is also known as Hypotension. It is defined as an abnormal decrease in blood pressure when the blood pressure of an individual starts to fall below 90/60 mmHg. When the Systolic pressure readings are below 90, or when the diastolic pressure readings are below 60, an individual is said to have Low Blood Pressure.
Low Blood Pressure, when it occurs suddenly in an individual can be very dangerous. Blood fails to reach vital parts of the body and subsequently, there is a shortage of oxygen supply to the brain, which can cause dizziness and fainting in the short term. If the low blood pressure is prolonged in cases like uncontrolled bleeding and allergic reactions, the effects can be life-threatening.
Causes of Low Blood Pressure
The following are the common causes of low blood pressure in an individual.
- Uncontrolled bleeding/Blood Loss
- Severe Blood Infection
- Severe Allergic Reaction
- Endocrine Problems
- Medical conditions like Anemia, neurological disorder and hormone problems.
- Medications like antidepressants, diuretics and alpha/beta blockers.
Low Blood Pressure may not seem very common, but it is the most dangerous of the two types of blood pressure and can kill within a short time.