Blood Pressure is the pressure of the blood in the arteries as the heart pumps it around the body and is one of the principal vital signs.
There is no ‘normal’ or ‘ideal’ blood-pressure reading. The following figures should only be used as a guide:
High blood pressure usually does not give warning signs. You can have high blood pressure and feel perfectly well. Suffering from high blood pressure puts you at risk of serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure and arterial aneurysms.
There are lifestyle choices you can make to help manage high blood pressure such as, keeping physically active, reducing alcohol intake, eating a healthy diet and quitting smoking.
Visit your local UFS Pharmacy to have your blood pressure checked today.
The human body requires blood to be constantly replaced with fresh blood, which necessitates a fast, powerful circulatory system. This ensures that oxygen from the lungs can be carried to cells quickly and efficiently. Without oxygen, these cells cannot operate. The body needs to keep the pressure in its blood vessels at a very constant level, which we term ‘blood pressure’. If blood pressure is too low, cells cannot operate, which in most cases causes dizziness (because the brain is at the top of the body, it is the first to run out of blood when someone is upright). If blood pressure is too high, it puts stress on the small vessels of the body (which can lead to them bursting in areas such as the brain and kidneys) and requires the heart to pump harder to overcome the pressure (which can lead to heart attacks). If blood vessels burst in the brain, it can cause a stroke, when blood vessels burst in the kidneys it causes kidney failure.
Blood pressure is often high enough to cause risks of heart attack, stroke or kidney failure but not high enough for someone to recognise without a blood pressure monitor, which is why it is vital for everybody to have regular blood pressure checks. A good way to remember the effects of high blood pressure is to think of the plumbing system of a house – if the mains pressure is turned up, it increases the risk of taps and fittings blowing out from the pressure at any time, but when you turn of the tap water still comes out fine and you would not know the difference. But every day that the pressure is high, the risk increases of something going wrong.
Pharmacists use a variety of medications to lower blood pressure in addition to ‘lifestyle factor modification’. Increased salt intake causes the kidneys to try to push more salt out of the body by releasing hormones that increase the blood pressure to try to get more blood through the kidneys. Exercise (especially ‘cardio’) reduces blood pressure over time by a number of ways, the most important of which is increasing the efficiency of blood flow in muscles and vessels. Increased muscle tone also means that muscles need less blood to function at the same level.
One factor to keep in mind is that exercise is very important to lower blood pressure over time, however when exercising, blood pressure increases to make sure that the muscles, lungs and brain get enough blood which is why we require patients to sit down for ten minutes prior to testing blood pressure to allow the body to get back to a resting state, otherwise the results will be incorrect.
Smoking tobacco increases blood pressure by two main pathways: nicotine shrinks blood vessels which increases blood pressure just like squeezing a balloon, and the carbon monoxide from smoke binds up blood cells which stops them transporting oxygen to cells, which means that you need more blood to get the same amount of oxygen around the body.
Using medications to lower blood pressure is usually the next step when lifestyle modification is not enough. Most blood pressure medications block different systems which the body uses to control blood pressure, which is why it is common for patients to be on more than one blood pressure medication. These medications often work really well in conjunction with each other, and using comparatively lower doses of multiple medicines often means we can cut down on side effects instead of giving a huge dose of a single drug.
The pharmacists at UFS are experts on medications and are always available to discuss your individual therapy. We are more than happy to explain in plain language how each of your medications work, possible side effects and also to help with non-drug therapies as discussed above.