Blood pressure - avoiding unnecessary risks

Posted on: 17 April 2013 by Fiona Flaherty

Fiona Flaherty explains why your body should get a 'full service' to combat the risks of hypertension

Blood pressure sphygmomanometerBiomarkers are biological indicators, which are used as a monitor to manage risk. They not only maintain health, but are also used to predict the status of health or a disease process in the human population.

There are a wide range of biomarkers and each biomarker has its’ own surrogate reference point or limit. For instance, an increase in its threshold could be an indicator of future illness or possible death due to a problem in the normal biological processes. 

Blood pressure is one of the many important biomarkers. It is the pressure exerted by the blood on the (blood vessel) vascular walls. Each time the heart beats (60-70 times a minute) it pumps blood. Two distinct pressures are recorded. The pressure exerted during the heart beating is known as systolic blood pressure. Whilst, when the heart is relaxed the pressure is known as diastolic blood pressure. A portable device called a sphygmomanometer measures the pressure exerted by the heart. A millimetre of Mercury (mmHg) is the unit used to measure the blood pressure. These two pressures are written like a fraction; the number on the top is systolic blood pressure and the number on the bottom is the diastolic blood pressure. Blood pressure does not remain constant all the time, but 120/80 mmHg is considered an optimal blood pressure range.

There are many factors acting as predictors of high blood pressure. These fall into three main groups, personal, disease and medication. Personal factors include age, family history or an adopted unhealthy  lifestyle. These may include (high salt/sodium intake, excessive animal fat consumption, all smoking activities, lack of cardiovascular and physical exercise, lack of adequate natural sleep, consumption of large amounts of alcohol, inadequate hydration and being overweight). Disease processes such as; diabetes, kidney disease and specific hormonal imbalances such as thyroid problems may lead to hypertension or be an early indicator that a disease is present. Finally, some medication groups may give rise to possible causes for an increase in blood pressure to include painkillers, anti-inflammatory known as NSAIDs, oral contraceptive pills, illegal drugs e.g. Cocaine and some herbal remedies. Therefore, all medication should be taken with extreme caution and where indicated, under medical supervision.

Think of your body as a motor vehicle. You need essentials water, oil, anti-freeze and fuel. The dashboard has indicators for the optimum levels for efficiency and safety. The capacity for passengers and carriage is regulated by the size of the vehicle and the engine capacity. Tyre pressures and tread ensure a smooth and safe grip on the road surface. Safety features to include seat belts, air bags, brakes, mirrors and windscreens ensure that you have the features to protect both you and your passengers. Maintenance is your personal responsibility. Regulation and/or age of the vehicle will indicate when it needs a professional ‘service’ for both public and personal safety. And with all this in place – you hope to maintain a long, reliable, cost-efficient and symptom free relationship, with just a vehicle. But they can always be replaced. So ask yourself the question, why take any unnecessary risks with your own health, as you are irreplaceable?

Read part two of this article Blood Pressure - the facts

If you have questions about your blood pressure or would like to share how you have managed high blood pressure, leave your comments below or visit 50connect forums

 

For and on behalf of Meducate Healthcare Ltd – July 2012

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