High blood pressure is a common condition, in which the force exerted by the blood on the blood vessels carrying them increases than the normal values. High blood pressure can be an asymptomatic condition and you may be unaware of its presence. But being aware can increase your chances of preventing further health problems. Then you might wonder, how to know if your blood pressure is high? Understanding high blood pressure, its risk factors and the possible signs and symptoms can help you protect your health.
High blood pressure develops over many years and can cause damage to other structures as well. Persistent high blood pressure is related to increased risk of heart diseases and stroke. High blood pressure is medically known as hypertension and is often associated with other conditions like narrowing of arteries, obesity and diabetes.
How to Know if Your Blood Pressure is High?
How to Interpret Blood Pressure Results?
Blood pressure for men and women is measured as two numbers and is written as 120/80 mm of Hg.
The two numbers denoted in blood pressure readings, are:
- Systolic pressure – This number is the higher number and is written at the top of blood pressure reading. The systolic pressure is the pressure in the arteries, when the heart muscle contracts (beats) and empties itself into the main arteries.
- Diastolic pressure – This is a lower number and is written at the bottom of blood pressure reading. The diastolic pressure is the pressure in between two heartbeats, when the heart muscle is resting and is being filled with blood.
Ideal blood pressure is usually 120/80 mm of Hg and is not much different for men and women. However, blood pressure in women may be slightly lower than in men of the same age. Women may have low blood pressure during their monthly cycles and may experience fatigue and dizziness. Women may experience a slight rise in blood pressure during pregnancy. Men and women both are at an increased risk of high blood pressure with increasing age.
What are the Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure?
- High blood pressure can be experienced by people with certain risk factors. Know them to understand if you are at risk and to know if your blood pressure is high.
As age advances, the risks of high blood pressure increases.
- A family history of blood pressure can increase your risk too.
- If you weight more than what is ideal, it increases the volume of blood circulated, thus increasing the pressure on the arteries.
- If you are used to a sedentary lifestyle and have not being active, your chances of having high blood pressure can increase.
- Dietary factors like excess salt, too much consumption of oily and fried food can put you at an increased risk of high blood pressure and other problems like high cholesterol.
- Taking low amounts of potassium can also disturb the balance and cause excess accumulation of sodium in the blood.
- Inadequate vitamin D levels can interfere with an enzyme production in the kidneys, which plays an important role in regulating blood pressure.
- Consumption of alcohol, smoking and use of tobacco, in general increases the risk of several medical ailments including high blood pressure.
- Lifestyle habits play an important role and stress can add to your risk of having high blood pressure.
How Does High Blood Pressure Affect You?
Know the signs and symptoms of high blood pressure, to understand how to know if your blood pressure is high. High blood pressure can affect every person in a slightly different manner and being a silent killer, is difficult to spot it.
Sometimes, people having high blood pressure may experience symptoms like headaches, dizziness, nose bleeds, blurring of vision or difficulty in normal vision, overall discomfort, nausea and sometimes vomiting.
While these symptoms are also commonly noticed in other conditions, it is worth checking your blood pressure if you experience these symptoms to know if your blood pressure is high. Also, these symptoms may not be necessarily experienced in the initial period and is mostly noticed after much damage is caused.
Hence, it is better to seek medical advice, if you experience these symptoms. Regular monitoring can help you to know if your blood pressure is high.
What are the Possible Complications of High Blood Pressure?
Knowing about the potential complications of high blood pressure can help you to know if you have high blood pressure.
Heart Diseases – Heart failure when the heart is unable to pump enough blood, it can lead to swelling in legs, feet and cause breathing difficulty. Heart attack can be a result of sudden blocking of blood circulation to the heart muscle, presented with chest pain, difficulty in breathing, sweating and nausea.
Stroke – When blood supplying the brain gets blocked, cutting off the oxygen supply, it can result in a medical emergency. It is presented with sudden onset of weakness or numbness in arms, jaws and difficulty in speech.
Circulatory Problems – An abnormal bulge in the arterial wall is called aneurysm, which blocks blood flow and causes obstruction. Peripheral artery disease, which is building up of plaque on the inner lining of arteries of legs affecting blood flow; symptoms include heaviness and pain in legs, swelling, cramping and numbness in buttocks and legs after walking for long.
Others – High blood pressure for a long time can cause damage to the kidneys, eyes and other organs, hence timely treatment and prevention is necessary.