Thursday, October 10, 2019

Blood Pressure - Risks and Concerns

by Ann-Marie Regina, ND (pending)

File:Bloodpressurecuff.jpgWhen your heart pumps to circulate blood throughout your body, it creates a pressure on your arteries, this is called blood pressure. This pressure is necessary to force blood to areas of your body that are farthest away from your heart like your fingers and toes.

So what is a healthy blood pressure reading for you? Everyone is different and there is a healthy range that is acceptable for each individual person. To determine if your blood pressure is at the right level for you, weight, height, level of exercise, family history, diet and any medical conditions that you may have, are necessary for a customized and accurate measurement.

High blood pressure (Hypertension)

When the pressure of blood on your arteries is too high, damage occurs resulting in an immune response. Immune cells try to fix the damage by covering the area with a plaque and cholesterol deposits, almost like a bandaid. The plaque may fix the damage, but it causes the artery walls to stiffen and become narrow. This process will continue as long as the blood pressure remains high. The more narrow the artery becomes, the more likely it can become clogged leading to heart disease.

So how do we recognize the symptoms of high blood pressure? The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure taken. High blood pressure is typically silent, meaning there are no symptoms.

Common risk factors for high blood pressure include:
  • Smoking
  • Stress especially is unrelenting or if poor coping skills
  • Family history or personal history of cardiovascular disease
  • Obesity, especially if carrying the weight in the abdomen or waist
  • Lack of exercise or too much strenuous exercise
  • Poor diet or imbalanced diet

Low blood pressure (Hypotension)

Making sure that your blood pressure is in a healthy range is important to your cardiovascular health. This also includes checking if your blood pressure is too low. Symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, dizziness, headache or feeling faint can be signs of low blood pressure and will have significant consequences on your health. If your blood pressure is too low, areas of the body such as the hands, feet and brain are not getting the blood and nutrients they need to function optimally. This will increase your risk of a stroke, dementia, peripheral neuropathy, erectile dysfunction, severe fatigue, hemorrhoids and varicose veins.

Common risk factors and diseases that can cause problematic low blood pressure include:

How often should you monitor your blood pressure?

If you have been on medication for blood pressure for awhile, you would check your blood pressure about once a week. If you are changing any medications, blood pressure or otherwise, ideally monitor your blood pressure once or twice a day for 10 days, or as advised by your healthcare practitioner.

If your blood pressure is generally stable and you aren't on any medications, we recommend checking your blood pressure at least every month or if there is a reason to be concerned. Changing your  routine significantly such as beginning a new exercise regime, major changes to your diet, stopping smoking or other changes may impact on your blood pressure and therefore it is best to check your blood pressure more frequently so that you know the impact.

Another good reason to check your blood pressure is if you experience any new symptoms that are out of the ordinary for you or are concerning.

Complimentary Blood Pressure Check!

We are pleased to announce that every Friday between 12-4, you are able to come into our clinic for a complimentary blood pressure check. This will be a drop in service, so you do not need to book an appointment.