Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by the blood on the blood vessel walls. However, when blood pressure is mentioned, the particular blood vessel of reference is usually the pressure within the arteries. Normally, the arterial blood pressure fluctuates with each heartbeat, having a maximum value called the systolic pressure. The systolic pressure is related to the ejection of blood from the heart into the arteries. Then, we have a minimum value of measurement called the diastolic pressure .The is the pressure that occurs when the aortic and pulmonary valves are closed and the heart is relaxed.
On the other hand, we have hypertension. It is also known as high blood pressure. As the name connotes, the blood pressure is elevated way above the normal level.
Hypertension is considered a risk factor for the development of the potentially fatal coronary heart disease. This is because in this condition much exertion is on the heart. The heart works harder than it should. High blood pressure can cause many problems, such as heart disease, kidney disease, eye damage, and stroke. Being conversant with the signs of hypertension is paramount. Signs of high blood pressure include frequent headache, pounding of the heart, shortness of breath with mild exercise, weakness, dizziness, occasional pain in the left shoulder and chest region. All these problems may also be caused by other diseases .Therefore, if a person suspects he or she has high blood pressure, they should see a health worker and have their blood pressure measured.
. No cause of high blood pressure is found in the majority of patients, thus, we can term such hypertension is termed essential hypertension. We have another type of hypertension with a known genesis. Such hypertension is called secondary hypertension. It may result from coarctation of the aorta, renal artery stenosis and renal disease. It can also be because of continual use of various drugs such as oral contraceptives, NSAIDS, aspirins, e.t.c. Thus, hypertensive patients are strongly advised to consult with their physician when taking some powerful drugs.
It would interest us to know that many people have high blood pressure for years without knowing it .It is therefore very much understandable why it is called a silent killer.
Fortunately, we have the technology to detect high blood pressure in the human system. This technology is known as the blood pressure monitor. With this machine, one can tell from the measured figures if one’s blood pressure is pumping at a normal rate or at a lower rate (hypotension). Still, before one purchase a blood pressure monitor, one should ensure the machine is clinically validated. We have organization like the British Hypertension Society.
A blood pressure reading with a standard blood pressure monitor consists of two numbers, for example: 120/80, which is read as “120 over 80”. The first number, systolic blood pressure measures the maximum pressure exerted as the heart contracts. A clinic measurement less than 140mmHg are generally considered normal for an adult. The lower number indicates diastolic pressure. A measurement taken between beats, when the heart is at rest. Blood pressure measured at home is usually lower than levels recorded by a doctor so self recorded blood pressures below 135 mmHg for the upper systolic reading and below 85 mmHg for the lower diastolic reading are generally desirable.
However, to get an accurate blood pressure measurement with these monitors, it is important to observe some basic rules in order to obtain an accurate measurement:
- Make sure the cuff fits. Before you purchase a blood pressure monitor, it is advisable that you measure around your upper arm. This is to ensure you get a monitor with the right cuff size. Place cuff 1 – 2 cm above elbow joint. However, the Omron M3 comes with a large cuff that fits well. Measure on the bare arm with cuff of clothes rolled up, but not too tightly. This is to ensure that the pulse is not under pressure .You should also ensure that the cuff position should be at the same level of the heart. Due to an unusually large arm or some injury to the arm, there would be a need to take measurement with other parts of the body. We have the Omron RS2 wrist blood pressure monitor. This machine has a cuff that can be wrapped around one’s wrist. When using the Omron cuff, do ensure that you do not place the cuff too loose or too tight. When rolling up one’s sleeves, the male should ensure the rolled-up sleeve is not too tight around the upper arm.
- Sit correctly. Sit with your back straight and supported on a hard chair. Do not cross your feet or your arms. Keep your feet flat on the floor and your arm supported on a hard surface with the upper arm at heart level of the cuff. There should be no talking or telephone conversation while taking the test.
- Ensure that you are still and well relaxed. If you walk down prior for a check-up, it is advisable to sit down quietly for 4-5 minutes before taking the blood pressure test.
Talking to anyone before and during the recording is not advised. Do not sway your body, move the monitor, or press the rubber tube. Interestingly, we have blood pressure monitor that detects movement and notifies user.
- Do not drink caffeinated beverages or exercise within the 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. This caffeine in the drink would elevate the heartbeat, thus, giving an inaccurate measurement.
- Take multiple readings. Each time you measure, take two or three readings one minute apart and record all the results. For example, you can take three readings one minute apart. After which, you calculate the average of the readings. It is advisable that you take measurement at the same time daily. This is because blood pressure fluctuates constantly during the day. The recommended times that are deemed the right time for measurement is first thing in the morning and again in the evening.
- Record all your results in a book you can show your health care provider. If your blood pressure is taken routinely and regularly not within normal ranges, seek advice from your doctor. We have some blood pressure monitor like some Omron M2 Basic Blood Pressure Monitor that has memory in it that stores your results and you can easily recall the results.
On recording a reading, that has a systolic reading above 140mm/Hg and diastolic reading above 90mmHg, it is advisable that one should contact his or her physician.
In the face of a high result, the following steps should be taken for proper management and other prevention steps:
- Overweight people should lose weight, as fat people are likely to come down under high blood pressure
- Stress should be avoided by any means.
- Fatty foods and foods with a lot of sugar or starch should be avoided.
- Food should be prepared and eaten with little or no salt, e.t.c
Usually when the blood pressure is very high, the health worker may give medicines to lower it. Again, it must be emphasized that shedding of body weight is very important in the management of high blood pressure. People who have high blood pressure should have it checked from time to time.
We should all endeavor to make it mandatory for us to always measure our blood pressure with a clinically validated blood pressure monitor.
A toast to good health to all.