Blood Pressure

Blood pressure has gotten a bad rap. Some pressure is essential for circulation. Without it, blood couldn't move from the heart to the brain and the toes and back again. The heart provides the driving force — each contraction of the left ventricle, the heart's main pumping chamber, creates a wave of pressure that passes through all the arteries in the body. Relaxed and flexible arteries offer a healthy amount of resistance to each pulse of blood.

But too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Arteries that are tensed, constricted, or rigid offer more resistance. This shows up as higher blood pressure, and it makes the heart work harder. This extra work can weaken the heart muscle over time. It can damage other organs, like the kidneys and the eyes. And the relentless pounding of blood against the walls of arteries causes them to become hard and narrow, potentially setting the stage for a heart attack or stroke.

Most people with high blood pressure (known medically as hypertension) don't know they have it. Hypertension has no symptoms or warning signs. Yet it can be so dangerous to your health and well-being that it has earned the nickname "the silent killer." When high blood pressure is accompanied by high cholesterol and blood sugar levels, the damage to the arteries, kidneys, and heart accelerates exponentially.

High blood pressure is preventable. Daily exercise, following a healthy diet, limiting your intake of alcohol and salt, reducing stress, and not smoking are keys to keeping blood pressure under control. When it creeps into the unhealthy range, lifestyle changes and medications can bring it down.

Blood Pressure Articles

BPA now linked to premature death

High levels of bisphenol A (BPA) exposure are linked to an increased risk for premature death from any cause, according to a study published online Aug. 17, 2020, by JAMA Network Open. More »

Medication and your skin

Medication side effects sometimes involve the skin. There are a number of medications that can cause pigment changes, including turning the skin blue. In addition, some medications may make the skin more prone to sunburns or skin cancer. A person who notices skin changes after starting a new medication should bring it to the attention of a doctor. More »

Feel woozy? Do this first

People who’ve never experienced wooziness should call 911 if the symptom comes on suddenly or severely, especially if it’s accompanied by other symptoms. However, a person who has experienced wooziness before or been unwell recently should sit down, have a drink of water or juice, and rest for 10 to 15 minutes. If the feeling of wooziness persists, if other symptoms develop, or if it’s hard to get up without feeling faint, one should call 911. More »

Seed of the month: Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are one of the best natural sources of magnesium, a mineral that’s important for keeping blood pressure in check. They’re also a good source of several other minerals, unsaturated fats, and fiber. More »

What could cause low blood pressure?

People who suffer from dizziness and weakness caused by low pressure should check their medication, especially for high blood pressure or heart disease. They should also monitor their water intake, as dehydration also can cause these problems. (Locked) More »

What is a silent stroke?

Most strokes are caused by a clot that blocks a blood vessel in the brain. Those that damage small areas of brain tissue that don’t control any vital functions are known as silent strokes because they don’t cause any noticeable symptoms. (Locked) More »

Fall prevention program comes up short

A specialized fall prevention program managed by nurses wasn’t able to significantly reduce the risk for serious falls for high-risk adults over age 70, according to a study published July 9, 2020, in the New England Journal of Medicine. More »

The best way to measure your blood pressure at home

To measure blood pressure accurately at home, one should get an approved blood pressure monitor and follow a particular set of steps. These include sitting at a table with one’s arm resting comfortably on it; keeping one’s back straight and feet flat on the floor; placing the blood pressure cuff around one’s bare upper arm; relaxing for five minutes before taking the first reading; remaining quiet while taking the blood pressure measurement; and waiting one to two minutes before taking another reading. (Locked) More »