High blood pressure readings are used to measure the pressure exerted by blood against the walls of your blood vessels as it is pumped through the system. There are two measurements. The first measurement is when the heart actually pumps and that’s the systolic. The second measurement is when the heart is at rest refilling the chamber in preparation for another beat, that’s called the diastolic.
These readings are expressed as two numbers with systolic being first followed by diastolic. For example, “normal” blood pressure is 120/80.
So why are blood pressure readings a concern? What do they actually tell us?
If our blood vessels are healthy, then we know the pressure should be around 120/80. Actually there are those who argue it should be lower than that. If either the systolic or diastolic pressure is greater than normal, then that’s an indicator that there may be a problem with the blood vessel system.
Nobody really knows what causes high blood pressure but we have a good idea of what elevated pressure can do to the body and to the blood vessels in particular. Healthy blood vessels are elastic. This allows them to expand during the systolic or pump pressure, and then contract during the diastolic phase. This is an efficient method of the distribution of blood.
If those vessels start to stiffen or harden, and that’s common with HBP, the vessels can’t expand during the systolic phase and that creates a higher pressure. Think of a source of water flowing through a three inch pipe now being forced into a two inch pipe and you can get an idea of how hardening of the vessels affects pressure.
Making this situation worse is the development of plaque, also caused by high blood pressure, which further reduces the diameter of the vessel by accumulating along the walls.
Hardening of the blood vessels and the accumulation of plaque are both associated with systolic blood pressure? But what if your diastolic pressure starts to rise? This actually could be a signal for a more immediate concern.
If the heart muscle has lost some of its tone and is not strong enough to fully pump all the blood out of the chamber, some will be left behind. When the valve opens to allow new blood into the chamber in preparation for the next pump, not as much is taken from the vessel feeding the chamber because the chamber is partially full. This means there is more volume in the blood vessels than normal and this will raise diastolic pressure.
The danger of course, is congestive heart failure. The heart could literally drown in its own blood. Just as important, this backup of blood effects the entire system to include the hair like capillaries that feed the brain and the eyes. If these tiny vessels do not get new blood they will essentially starve the area they feed because they are not getting the oxygen and nutrients they need. This can result in stroke and loss of sight.
While blood pressure readings are important, a single reading is not. There can be any number of reasons for a spike or elevation in a reading. It takes at least two readings separated by time to come to any conclusion as to your condition.
Depending on where your readings come in, your doctor may recommend blood pressure medication. Before you blindly accept the prescription, know that you can cure hypertension naturally without the side effects and expense of drugs.
It’s your body. Take responsibility for your health and learn as much as you can about high blood pressure and your treatment options.