Blood Pressure: Numbers, Facts, and Figures

High blood pressure is a very common condition currently affecting millions of people around the world. Incredibly, about one in three American adults suffer from high blood pressure, and only about half of those people currently have their condition under control. Simple stated, high blood pressure consists of a strong blood force against your artery walls that leads to heart failure, coronary heart disease, kidney failure, stroke, and other problems. Most notably, high blood pressure is usually asymptomatic, leaving many of its victims unaware.

How is Blood Pressure Calculated?

Essentially, blood pressure is a fight between the amounts of blood the heart pumps through the body versus the amount of resistance the arteries put up against that blood flow.

Therefore, if the arteries become incredibly narrow, the body’s overall blood pressure skyrockets because the body has a difficult time pumping blood through these arteries. Think about it: if one were to pour water into a thick drain, the drain would put up no resistance—the water would just rush through. However, if one were to force water into a skinny tube, the water would have a difficult time maneuvering through the tube. The pressure would build.

Blood Pressure by the Numbers

The blood pressure’s scientific measurement is calculated with regards to systolic and diastolic pressures. Systolic is the blood pressure the body has when the heart is beating. Diastolic, on the other hand, is the blood pressure the body has when it’s resting between pumps. The systolic number is generally written above the diastolic number, yielding something like this: 115/75 mmHg. Note that mmHG means “millimeters of mercury.”

People with optimal blood pressure levels have systolic numbers less or equal to 120MMHG and diastolic number less or equal to 80mmHG.

There are different stages of risk for high blood pressure. For example, if people have systolic numbers between 130 and 139 OR if people have diastolic numbers between 85 and 89, they have prehypertension. Therefore, they have a dramatic risk of developing hypertension and high blood pressure.

Furthermore, if people have systolic numbers between 140 and 159 OR they have diastolic numbers between 90 and 99, they have stage 1 high blood pressure.

If people have systolic numbers above 160 OR they have diastolic numbers above 100, they have stage 2 high blood pressure. Quite obviously, stage 2 is far more dangerous than stage 1 and quite more difficult to control.

Note, however, that blood pressure alters all the time. Sleep, for example, causes the blood pressure to lower, while waking up causes blood pressure to rise. Blood pressure also rises when one is nervous, excited, or on-the-move. If one’s numbers are continuously too high, one’s risk for serious health problems grows. If one is currently in the prehypertension range, one must take immediate steps to decrease blood pressure levels to avoid future high blood pressure associated problems.

If you have had high blood pressure before and you’ve taken the appropriate steps to alleviate that high blood pressure, congratulations. However, it’s important to remember that people who have had high blood pressure in the past are always suffering from the condition. People must maintain continuous treatment plans to keep high blood pressure at bay.

Why Care About High Blood Pressure?

Note that in 2009, about 348,000 Americans died as a result of high blood pressure. This means that every single day in that year, high blood pressure killed 1,000 people.

Furthermore, seven out of every ten people who have their first heart attack can attribute their heart attack to high blood pressure (1); eight out of ten stroke victims can attribute their stroke to high blood pressure; and seven out of every ten people with chronic heart failure have high blood pressure. If they had altered their lifestyle, chosen to eat differently, exercised well, and maintained normal blood pressure levels, they would not have suffered from these very painful health conditions.

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