Explanation of Blood Pressure
One of the vital signs that the doctor or nursing assistant takes at each doctor’s visit is blood pressure. Blood pressure is a value used to measure the force created by circulating blood as it moves through the arteries of the body. Monitoring blood pressure allows medical professionals to evaluate if a patient may have a problem with hypertension or hypo-tension.
The tool used to obtain a blood pressure reading is formally known as a sphygmomanometer or blood pressure machine. Most offices use automatic machines that take the measurements and display them on a small digital screen, but there are times and situations when manual measurements are taken. To take manual measurements, the blood pressure cuff is placed on the upper arm and pumped full of air. When the air pressure in the cuff reaches 200 mmHg on the gauge, the air is slowly released, while the medical professional listens through a stethoscope for dull tapping sounds to begin and end. The beginning of the sounds marks the systolic pressure, while the end of the sounds marks the diastolic pressure, giving the two numbers that make up a blood pressure reading.
Variations and Norms
Blood pressure readings vary from time to time, and are dependent upon a person’s daily diet, current body temperature, recent physical activities and emotional state, among other factors. Healthy blood pressure standards govern that the systolic pressure should be in the range of 90 to 119 mmHg and the diastolic pressure in the range of 60 to 79 mmHg. Average blood pressure varies from one individual to another, and should be monitored to determine if there is a problem.
Problems and Potential Outcomes
Hypertension is a condition in which a person’s average blood pressure reading is more than 120 systolic and more than 80 diastolic. Hypertension means that the heart is working even harder to push blood through the body, stretching out the heart and making it weaker. Hypertension has been linked to renal failure, aneurysms and heart diseases such as strokes and heart attacks.
Low average blood pressure, or hypo-tension becomes a concern when other factors, such as fatigue, dizziness, or fainting occur as a result. Hypo-tension results in the body’s parts not receiving the adequate supply of oxygenated blood that they require.
Medications to lower blood pressure can be obtained by visiting a physician, but natural remedies have proved effective in lowering blood pressure. Ways to reduce blood pressure include: watching your weight, exercising, reducing salt intake and quitting smoking.
Don’t be alarmed if a blood pressure reading is high for a single reading; remember that it’s dependent upon many factors. If the readings seem to get high only during doctor visits, the patient may have “white coat syndrome.” This simply means that they get nervous and their blood pressure rises when they visit the doctor.