Some 60,000 miles of blood vessels run through the human body. As the heart powers the blood over these vessels, the fluid is under pressure. Blood pressure is measured in milliliters of mercury (mm Hg), usually expressed in two numbers-systolic high blood pressure is the higher number, and diastolic blood pressure is the lower number. Ideal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower.
Age Wise High Blood Pressure Effects
Statistical evidence indicates that damage to the arteries starts at blood pressures above 120/80. The risk for CVD doubles with each increment of 20/10, starting with a blood pressure of 115/75. All blood pressures of at least l 40/90 are considered to be hypertension. Blood pressures ranging from 120/80 to 139/89 are referred to as prehypertension. ·
AHA estimates indicate that approximately one in every three adults, or about 80 million American adults, is hypertensive. Two out of three Americans over 60, one out of three between 40 and 60, and one in 14 between 18 and 39 years of age suffer from hypertension. Current estimates also indicate that unless a preventive approach is used, 90 percent of adults 55 and older, who currently have normal blood pressure, are at risk of developing high blood pressure. The incidence is higher among African Americans-in fact, it is among the highest in the world. Approximately 30 percent and 20 percent of all deaths in African American men and women, respectively, may be caused by high blood pressure.
Although the threshold for hypertension has been set at 140/90, many experts believe that the lower the blood pressure, the better. Even if the pressure is around 90/50, as long as that person does not have any symptoms of hypo tension, he or she need not be concerned. Typical symptoms of hypertension are dizziness, lightheartedness, and fainting.
Determining True Resting Blood Pressure
Blood pressure also may fluctuate during a regular day. Many factors affect high blood pressure, and one single reading may not be a true indicator of the real pressure. For example, physical activity. emotions, caffeine intake 30 minutes prior to assessment, and stress increase blood pressure; while rest and relaxation decrease blood pressure. Other factors that may increase blood pressure are “white coat hypertension” (nervousness about having high blood pressure taken in the doctor’s office), talking, sitting with the back unsupported, crossing the legs, having the feet off the ground, or letting the arm hang too low. Consequently, several measurements should be taken before establishing the true resting pressure. A person can also request ambulatory monitoring that is, using a device that measures and stores the pressure every 20 to 30 minutes for a day or two while the individual engages in all of the daily activities and even while sleeping.