Measuring blood pressure and keeping its values under control is a crucial aspect of your overall health and well-being.
Constantly elevated blood pressure translates into hypertension, a condition that greatly increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure and a vast array of other diseases that can lead to premature death.
In this day and age, people of all ages, including extremely young ones, are being diagnosed with diseases that are caused by high BP, making hypertension a disease that can kill quietly and sometimes quickly.
Before going into more detail about normal blood pressure values and fluctuations that may occur, it is imperative to understand what blood pressure is and how it can be determined correctly.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by the blood on the walls of the arteries, both during the contraction and during the rhythmic relaxation of the heart.
Blood pressure has two components that must be taken into consideration when measuring.
The first is systolic, ie the pressure that is exerted by the blood on the arterial walls when the heart contracts (during systole). Normal values are between 100-130 mm Hg.
The second component is the diastolic one, ie the pressure exerted by the blood on the arterial walls when the heart relaxes between two contractions (in diastole), with normal values below 85 mm Hg.
How to measure blood pressure correctly
Blood pressure is practically the result of the heart cycle, being correlated with the daily activities we carry out and it greatly depends on the health, lifestyle and age of each person.
The classic method of measuring blood pressure is performed using a traditional mercury device (very rare) or the modern method based on electronic sphygmomanometers.
Digital sphygmomanometers are used frequently, their main advantage is that they are quick, easy to use and the results can be understood even without medical training.
In pharmacies, there are digital sphygmomanometers for automatic or semi-automatic machines and digital sphygmomanometers for the wrist.
Blood pressure values can vary dramatically for the same person from one measurement to another depending on breathing rhythm, movement, body position and emotional state, this is why it is important to use every device the way it’s recommended by the manufacturer.
How to measure BP with a traditional arm monitor
When you take your blood pressure you should be sitting on a chair with your back straight, leaning against the back of the chair, feet on the floor and your arm should be resting on the table with the elbow at heart level.
The cuff of the sphygmomanometer should be positioned slightly above the bend of your elbow. During the period in which the sphygmomanometer records the values, you must not move or speak.
How to measure BP with a wrist monitor
Place the cuff on the left wrist with the palm facing up, and then move that hand to the right shoulder, so that the sphygmomanometer sits close to the heart. The measurement takes place and you can note the values.
Normal blood pressure values depending on age
Normal blood pressure values according to a person’s age on an electronic sphygmomanometer should be between 90 and 120 for systolic pressure and between 60 and 80 for diastolic pressure.
A notable fact is that studies have shown that men are more likely to develop high blood pressure.
Normal blood pressure in children
Children’s BP values are slightly lower than those mentioned above. Systolic pressure values can be between 70 and 140, depending on the age of the children, while diastolic pressure can be between 50 and 80.
Sex, age, and height play a major role in determining the normal range for BP in kids.
Normal blood pressure in adults
Normal blood pressure for adults is around 120/80 mm Hg. Any value that exceeds 140/90 mm Hg falls within high blood pressure and comes with a high risk of health issues.
Normal BP in elderly people
Normal blood pressure in the elderly may be higher than in adults because the blood vessels lose their elasticity as we age.
A senior person may have a normal blood pressure slightly higher than 120/80 mm Hg, but should not exceed 140/90 mm Hg
Out of range BP values
BP values vary during a day depending on numerous factors such as the type of activities being performed, stress factors, diet, resting periods or fatigue to name a few.
This is a universal truth which applies to everyone, healthy or not: blood pressure is influenced by lifestyle and in turn, impacts the health of the body.
Hypotension is defined as blood pressure with values below 90/60 mm Hg.
In general low blood pressure is not alarming for people who do not have other health conditions, However, in elderly people, this condition poses a serious risk because it might cause dizziness, fainting or inadequate blood flow to the heart, brain, and other vital organs.
Low BP causes
There are multiple known causes that can lead to hypotension:
- Hormonal issues such as hypothyroidism
- Low blood sugar
- Heart failure or arrhythmias
- Heat stroke
- Liver disease
- Health issues that might cause the dilation of the blood vessel
Various causes also translate into a variety of symptoms, different from one person to another.
- Blurred vision
- Severe fatigue
- Lack of concentration etc
These symptoms may overlap with other pre-existing conditions and may sometimes be overlooked.
However, in the elderly, hypotension is almost as dangerous as high blood pressure because it can induce confusion, shallow and rapid breathing, and a rapid but weak pulse, all of which pose a great threat to a senior’s life and well-being.
For people without other health problems, hypotension can be managed by having a balanced diet, intense hydration, and an active lifestyle but without sudden movements (to avoid postural hypotension).
In addition to these recommendations, it is imperative to live a balanced life, avoiding overload and prioritizing rest.
If these practical tips are not helpful and the symptoms worsen, the specialist will be the one to decide if it is necessary to switch to drug treatment.
High blood pressure can be fatal especially when there are preexisting health issues, but complicated cases have been reported in young people more often than ever.
Hypertension is defined by the NHS as blood pressure with values of 140/90mmHg or higher (or 150/90mmHg or higher over the age of 80).
There are numerous factors that increase the risk of high blood pressure:
- Kidney disease
People who have a predisposition to gain weight and end up being diagnosed with obesity are more likely to develop high blood pressure.
The simplistic explanation is that for every extra kilogram, the body will increase the network of blood vessels by about 3 km, which makes the heart consume more energy and work harder to pump blood throughout the circulatory system. This means an increase in heart rate and higher blood pressure
Increased fatigue makes its mark on health. Fatigue is a risk factor for high blood pressure. There are people with high blood pressure who develop rhythm disorders, manifested by fatigue, with the appearance of symptoms of dizziness.
Daily feelings and emotions can make their mark on sleep or can induce increased fatigue, without the possibility of quality rest, amid the agitation.
Intellectual fatigue leads to physical and mental exhaustion, poor quality sleep and, over time, can become a risk factor for high blood pressure.
- Obstructive sleep apnoea
- Sedentary lifestyle
- High salt intake
- Alcohol consumption
Daily alcohol consumption will lead to an increase in blood pressure over time. Alcohol consumption increases heart rate and can lead to atrial fibrillation, while chronic alcohol consumption causes alcoholic cardiomyopathy.
- Certain drugs ( contraceptive pill, steroids, some recreational drugs) etc
Some medications can raise blood pressure, even for people who have not been diagnosed with health problems. Steroids, hormones, antidepressants, certain diet pills, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, high-salt antacids and nasal decongestants are just a few that can greatly impact your health.
Even the use of cold and flu medications can increase blood pressure. Ordinary paracetamol can lead to high blood pressure if consumed in large quantities.
This is why it is very important to find out from your doctor what medicines you can take, what they are prescribed for and how they can interact with each other.
High BP symptoms
Sometimes, hypertension exists without giving out any clues and this is the reason why it is also called the “silent killer”.
In other cases symptoms might be noticeable:
- Blurred vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain and heart palpitations
- Headaches etc
Most often in the case of a diagnosis of hypertension, depending on the BP level, disease manifestations, family history and the presence or absence of other health problems, the doctors will decide to prescribe drugs alongside further investigations and regular medical check-ups.
Possible complications in case of abnormal blood pressure value
Prevention of BP complications such as stroke, aneurysm, heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, etc., can be done by following a balanced diet, maintaining an optimal weight and having an overall healthy lifestyle.
High blood pressure that cannot be controlled with medication and diet leads to serious long-term health issues. Along with the problems listed above, high blood pressure can cause other conditions: heart arrhythmia, vision problems and even blindness, but also an insufficient blood supply to the lower limbs.
Lifestyle recommendations for healthy BP value
Life in moderation has never been a meaningless phrase and in the present day, it’s a pivotal construct for a healthy and happy life. For people with blood pressure issues, a balanced life equals a long, fulfilling one.
Healthy nutrition within a balanced diet is essential and additional attention should be placed on products that have an increased amount of salt.
Thus, foods with low salt content, daily exercise, maintaining an optimal weight, avoiding alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, rest and as little stress as possible, will keep your blood pressure within the normal limits.
Periodic medical tests and monitoring
Regular medical check-ups are critical to identifying any health problems that may occur. In addition, an early diagnosis can prevent complications.
The doctor will determine if a treatment is required, the period and, depending on the results obtained, the change or maintenance of your current lifestyle.
Normal blood pressure values largely depend on genetic factors, but also on lifestyle. Even if fluctuations can occur throughout life, it is a good idea to pay close attention to any changes you notice and consult your doctor when you suspect a problem.
Early identification of a possible issue related to blood pressure can make the difference between life and death.
There are treatment schemes but also changes that you can make, so that you can take control over your own health.