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{November 16, 2010}   Things you must know about Blood Pressure

Things you must know-By Nidarshana Sharma

Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of blood vessels and is one of the principal vital signs.

For each heartbeat, there is a maximum (systolic) and minimum (diastolic) pressure. Each time the heart beats (about 60-70 times a minute at rest), it pumps out blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is said to be at its highest when the heart beats, pumping the blood. This is the systolic pressure. When the heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is the diastolic pressure. Gravity, valves in veins, and pumping from contraction of skeletal muscles, are some other influences on BP at various places in the body.

The term blood pressure usually is that which is measured at a person’s upper arm, on the inside of an elbow at the brachial artery, which is the upper arm’s major blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart. A person’s BP is usually expressed in terms of the systolic pressure over diastolic pressure (mmHg), for example 120/80.
Your blood pressure levels change with the kind of activity you are engaged in. BP is at its lowest when you are asleep and it increases as you get up. It can become high when you are excited, nervous or angry.

However, for most parts of the day, your BP is usually constant. A normal level is about 120/80, with a few variations. The danger is when your BP rises to say, a level of 140/90. That just indicates a high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major reason for worry, because your heart is overworked and strained the same amount of blood and this translates to greater chances of heart and kidney diseases. High blood is often called the silent killer, because it doesn’t often manifest itself through symptoms and provides no warning signs either. When your heart is strained, it will enlarge and an enlarged heart functions with worrisome.

It is estimated that over 60 million Americans have high blood pressure.  Of this 60 million, about 35 percent of them are not aware of their it.

Having known some key facts about blood pressure, it is also important to know how to keep it in check. The most important and the most effective way is by exercise and diet control. A tab on salt intake, alcohol consumption and quitting smoking are the best ways to combat blood pressure. Individuals who are very active have a lower risk of getting high blood pressure (20 to 50 percent) than people who are not active.

Sometimes blood pressure is also controlled by medication, especially in cases where it is slightly on the higher side. However, one can control their blood pressure levels very effectively with proper food and exercise.

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