Hypertension may be known as the silent killer, but it’s also one of the easiest medical conditions to diagnose. Hypertension can be spotted with a non-invasive test which involved monitoring the pressure during a routine medical exam. However, blood pressure monitoring is something that you can also do at home, with a special device that’s available for purchase in just about every pharmacy.
How to take blood pressure
Blood pressure monitors are also known as sphygmomanometers, and they are very similar to an inflatable cuff. The test is non-invasive, and is normally performed in the doctor’s office, during routine exams. People who are aware of their high blood pressure might want to purchase a sphygmomanometer for personal use, to stay informed on their current blood pressure levels without having to do to the doctor’s office every time a test is required.
The inflatable cuff is wrapped around your arm, and has a gauge attached to it. The cuff is normally wrapped on the upper side of your arm, but there are some that go around your wrist or your forearms. However, they don’t offer reading as accurate.
When you take a blood pressure test inside the doctor’s office, the nurse or the doctor will also use a stethoscope to listen to your blood circulation. The blood of people who suffer from hypertension often makes a distinctive sound.
The cuff is the inflated to a high level, exceeding your systolic pressure, and causing the cuff to feel very tight around the arm. The cuff is then released, and through the stethoscope, the doctor can hear a noise that indicates your systolic blood pressure. When the sound goes away, the gauge will indicate your diastolic blood pressure.
This reading is formed from two distinct numbers: systolic and diastolic pressure.
Systolic and diastolic pressure: What you need to know
The blood pressure of a person is indicated by two numbers. The first number indicates systolic pressure, which is the resulting pressure in your arteries as a consequence of your heart muscles contraction. The second number is the diastolic pressure, which is a representation of your blood pressure between two consecutive heartbeats.
The two numbers read together will indicate your blood pressure. Naturally, there are ideal intervals for an adult’s blood pressure, as follows:
- Normal blood pressure is recognized through a systolic reading that’s below 120, and a diastolic reading of below 80.
- Elevated blood pressure has a 120 to 129 systolic reading, and below 80 diastolic.
- The first stage of high blood pressure is when the systolic number is between 130 and 139, and the diastolic number is between 80 and 89.
- The second stage of hypertension is indicated by a systolic reading of 140 or higher, and a diastolic reading of 90 or higher.
- A reading of 180/120 or higher is an indicator of hypertensive crisis.
Stage 1 hypertension
Doctors prefer to track the pressure and calculate the average before giving such a diagnosis. Instead of giving medicine, they might suggest a lifestyle improvement and, if your blood pressure doesn’t drop within a month, only then will they prescribe medication for hypertension. People who are at a lower risk will be given anywhere between three to six months to improve their lifestyle, before reexamining their blood pressure.
People who are over the age of 65 will most likely receive a prescription and lifestyle recommendations if their systolic readings exceed 130.
Stage 2 hypertension
Naturally, since the blood pressure is more elevated than in the previous case, doctors also treat this as a more serious condition. Doctors normally prescribe at least one medical treatment (patients can be given even three or more high blood pressure pills).
These medications also need to be paired with a healthier lifestyle. Some of the meds prescribed for stage 2 hypertension may include diuretics, calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, alpha blockers, or ACE inhibitors.
Some people at this stage can experience a variety of symptoms, such as dizziness and headache, nausea and vomiting, chest pains, vision problems, blood in urine, even loss of muscle control, which could indicate a stroke.
As a general note, doctors who witness such a high blood pressure will perform a second reading, as there are changes of the hypertension number dropping suddenly within the normal intervals. If the secondary reading is as high as the first one, doctor will treat it urgently, regardless of whether you display any of the aforementioned symptoms.
Low blood pressure
If your blood pressure reading is below the 90/60 threshold, then you might have hypotension, which is the reverse of hypertension. This can also pose a threat, as it means that your blood pressure is too low to properly fuel your heart and organs.
Hypotension can have many different causes, ranging from side effects of medication you’re taking or have recently taken, endocrine problems, malnutrition, severe infections, blood loss, pregnancy, dehydration, or heart problems.
When your blood pressure is very low, you can also experience a state of dizziness and confusion.