A high diastolic reading (equal to or greater than 120 mmHg) is linked to a higher risk of disease involving the large artery called the aorta that carries blood and oxygen from the heart to distant body parts. People with an elevated diastolic reading are more prone to develop an abdominal aortic aneurysm (ballooning in the lining of the aorta). The problem with such ballooning is that it ruptures and causes a high risk of death. Diastolic pressure is pressure that the blood column puts on the arteries between beats when the heart is relaxed.
What does it mean when the systolic number is high?
In practice, systolic blood pressure (equal to or more than 160 mmHg) should be regarded as more important than diastolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the force generated on the inside of the blood vessels called the arteries when the heart contracts. According to a recent study, having a high systolic reading increased the risk of heart attacks and heart disease. Systolic blood pressure is linked not only with heart disease and heart failure but also with kidney disease and overall mortality. Research favored high systolic readings as most predictive of a harmful cardiovascular outcome. As a result, these readings were given more weightage in cardiology guidelines and risk estimation.
What level of blood pressure can increase the risk of stroke?
Any blood pressure reading that is equal to and more than 180/120 mmHg is usually considered hypertensive crisis. At this range of blood pressure, the blood vessels may rupture, and a person may get a hemorrhagic stroke.
High blood pressure (hypertension) is the leading cause of strokes in the United States. However, it’s also one of the common risk factors that can be prevented. High blood pressure can damage or weaken the brain arteries, increasing a person’s risk of a stroke. Below are a few readings that everyone should know.
What are the treatment options for high blood pressure?
- If blood pressure is between 120/80 and 130/80 mmHg, doctors may recommend lifestyle changes to bring blood pressure down to a normal range. Medicines are rarely used at this stage.
- Stage I hypertension: If blood pressure is higher than 130/80 mmHg but lower than 140/90 mmHg
- Lifestyle changes with a single hypertensive drug
- Stage II hypertension: If blood pressure is higher than 140/90 mmHg, doctors may recommend starting rigorous medications and following strict lifestyle changes.
- Most of the time, a single drug may be used at first. Two drugs may be started if a person has stage II hypertension or consistent readings above 160/90 mmHg.
- Diuretics (water pills): They help the kidneys remove some sodium (salt) from the body. As a result, the blood vessels do not have to hold as much fluid and blood pressure may be maintained.
- Beta-blockers: These drugs slow down the heart rate and reduce heart load.
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors): These work on the kidneys and reduce sodium retention in the body. They also have a direct action on the blood vessels causing them to relax.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs): They work in about the same way as ACE inhibitors.
- Calcium channel blockers: These relax the blood vessels by reducing calcium entering the cells.
- Alpha-blockers: These help lower blood pressure by a central action (blood pressure center in the brain).
- Renin inhibitors: These are newer types of medicines for treating high blood pressure. They act by reducing the amount of angiotensin precursors, thereby relaxing the blood vessels.
Some common side effects of high blood pressure medicines include
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