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How to Get "Good" Blood Pressure Now, Say Physicians

Expert explains everything to know about blood pressure. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Millions of Americans live with high blood pressure, which is a concerning health issue because it can damage your arteries and decrease oxygen levels and blood flow to your heart and cause heart disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, "Nearly half of adults in the United States (47%, or 116 million) have hypertension, defined as a systolic blood pressure greater than 130 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure greater than 80 mmHg or are taking medication for hypertension." Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, MBBS, Ph.D., a professor of public health at New Mexico State University tells Eat This, Not That! Health, "According to some latest studies, high blood pressure awareness and treatment have been declining and there is an urgent need to emphasize on increasing awareness." He adds that just this past February was "American Heart Month and it is important to know all symptoms and signs for heart disease as they can often occur suddenly and can be a cause of major disability or death." Read Dr. Khubchandani tips below on how to get good blood pressure and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

What is Blood Pressure and Why is it Important?

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Dr. Khubchandani says, "Blood pressure is the pressure that blood exerts on walls of blood vessels (e.g. arteries) when the heart is pumping blood to body systems and organs. Normal blood pressure is an indicator of and vital for proper blood flow from the heart to the body organs and tissues. The American Heart Association lists the ranges for abnormal blood pressure."

2

How Do You Get Good Blood Pressure and What's Considered Good?

Doctor taking blood pressure reading
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According to Dr. Khubchandani, "Blood pressure can alter throughout the day and based on many circumstances (e.g. time of day, eating and drinking patterns, body position, medication consumption, etc.). There are two numbers for blood pressure. The top number (systolic blood pressure) is the force that the heart exerts on arteries when the heart beats. The bottom number (diastolic blood pressure) is to assess the force our heart exerts on the walls of blood vessels (e.g. arteries) in between the heart beats. Normal blood pressure is considered between 90-120 for top number and 60-80 for bottom number. The guidelines for diagnosing and treating abnormal blood pressure have changed over the past few decades, but, the key message is that numbers above and below the range listed should raise concern and individuals should seek professional assistance and care. Especially, because blood pressure abnormalities are very prevalent and as of today, more than a third of the U.S. adults have hypertension (i.e. high blood pressure). Worldwide as well, the rates of hypertension have nearly doubled within the past few decades and most people with hypertension either don't get screened, treated, or fail to achieve blood pressure control despite treatment. Many people with high blood pressure may not even have symptoms in early stages of hypertension."

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3

Causes of High Blood Pressure

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Dr. Khubchandani explains, "There are a plethora of risk factors associated with hypertension (i.e. high blood pressure). Broadly, these risk factors can be classified as behavioral and lifestyle factors, sociodemographic characteristics, and presence of other diseases. Worldwide, lifestyle habits and behavioral issues have emerged as leading risk factors (e.g. too much alcohol use, smoking, body weight, salt consumption, and stress). Among sociodemographic risk factors, age (older), sex (males), race (Blacks), family history, and genetics play a major role in occurrence of high blood pressure. Diseases of thyroid, kidney, sleep apnea, adrenal tumors, and certain medications have been associated with risk of hypertension."

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4

Causes of Low Blood Pressure

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"Just like hypertension, low blood pressure (hypotension) can have a variety of risk factors and causes (some of these are medical emergencies)," says Dr. Khubchandani. "For example, dehydration, blood loss (injuries), pregnancy, severe and widespread infection (septicemia), severe allergic reaction, weak or failing heart, and lack of healthy diet full of nutrients can cause low blood pressure. In such conditions, due to low pressure, adequate blood does not flow to body organs and tissues. Certain medications used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) may also cause hypotension especially with inappropriate doses. Other major categories of types of hypotension are postprandial (after eating), postural (on standing upright), or neutrally mediated (faulty brain heart communication signals). Individuals may have symptoms such as dizziness, fainting, weakness, confusion, shallow breathing, cold skin, blurred vision, just to name a few."

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5

Negative Effects of Not Having Good Blood Pressure

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Dr. Khubchandani states, "Abnormal blood pressure is a major cause of years of life lost, morbidity, and mortality. In the United States alone, more than half a million people die every year due to heart disease (number one cause of death in Americans). Hypertension remains a major risk factor in a large proportion of these deaths. Furthermore, high blood pressure means a constant assault on vital organs and blood vessels. Strokes, kidney failure, heart failure and heart attacks, damaged arteries, and vision loss are a few examples of deadly or severe outcomes of high blood pressure (especially if untreated and uncontrolled for longer durations). Globally, more than 10 million people die every year due to high systolic blood pressure (top number elevated). Low blood pressure, especially if symptomatic, can also be deadly as it can cause multi organ failure. Adequate blood pressure ensures that blood flows to body organs and tissues to bring nourishment and oxygen. In the absence of blood flow due to low pressure, tissues and cells may die." And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather