Currently, health officials all across the globe are more concerned for our health and well-being than ever before, and rightfully so. For the first time in history, life expectancies are actually decreasing and are on the decline. Obesity levels are on the rise, more and more people are leading increasingly unhealthy lifestyles, which is one of the main reasons why the number of people suffering from hypertension, perhaps better known as High Blood Pressure, is higher now than ever. Hypertension is often known as the ‘silent killer’ and it is a very serious condition that must be rectified sooner rather than later. In this article we’ll be taking a look at what blood pressure is, how to diagnose high blood pressure, what some typical blood pressure test procedures may be, the causes, and potential cures and preventative measures you should take as well. So, without any further ado, let’s learn more about hypertension, including how to test blood pressure, and much more besides.
How to diagnose blood pressure
Hypertension is known as the ‘silent killer’ due largely to the fact that it is very difficult to detect. For example, if we have a common cold, it is easy to make a diagnosis because we have all of the common cold symptoms, such as: runny nose, blocked nose, cough, headache, sneezes, etc. Hypertension however, shows no signs or symptoms, so a person could be suffering from hypertension for years, blissfully unaware of the fact that they could potentially lose their life at any minute. Because of this, having your blood pressure tested regularly is the only way of really knowing whether or not your blood pressure is of a safe and healthy level.
Testing and measuring blood pressure
A high blood pressure test can be performed using automatic or manual devices. The test works by placing an inflatable cuff on your arm, which is known as a sphygmomanometer. The device is then pumped up and inflated, so that it then restricts your blood flow. From this point onwards, the pressure of the device will slowly be reduced, and your pulse will be measured. After the cuff is released, measuring your heartbeat allows the expert to take a reading of your overall blood pressure. Blood pressure readings are measured via two numbers: systolic blood pressure, which is the top number, indicating your blood pressure when your heart beats, and Diastolic blood pressure, which is your blood pressure when your heart is resting in-between each beat. Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury, or mmHg, and will be recorded as these two figures. A healthy number to aim for is a reading of 130/80mmHG, or, 130 over 80, which would mean that your systolic pressure would be 130mmHG, whereas your diastolic would be 80mmHG. If your blood pressure is consistently measured at 140/90mmHg, you are classed as having hypertension and will need to address the issue immediately.
Testing blood pressure at home
As mentioned, testing your blood pressure is a relatively simple procedure, and although it is strongly recommended that you allow a doctor or trained medical professional to test your blood pressure and perform your blood pressure test, you can also test and monitor your blood pressure at home. Whilst testing blood pressure at home is not considered a 100% reliable method of monitoring things, it is still able to provide you with a rough idea of your pressure, and indeed, whether or not any medications or lifestyle changes you have made are actually working. You can easily test your blood pressure at home, using a blood pressure monitor, which can be purchased relatively cheaply, and they don’t require a prescription to own.
Tests for causes of high blood pressure
Although measuring your blood pressure is the only true way of making a diagnosis as to whether or not your blood pressure is high, your doctor may order a number of other blood pressure tests, to determine what may have been responsible for your increase in blood pressure in the first place. These tests may include:
- Blood tests to determine nitrogen, blood urea, and electrolyte content, as well as whether or not your kidneys are involved and/or affected in any way.
- Lipid profile tests to ascertain whether or not high LDL, or low HLD cholesterol levels could be responsible.
- Hormone tests designed to monitor your thyroid and/or your adrenal gland.
- Ultrasounds and/or abdominal CT scans to monitor the kidneys and the adrenal gland to ensure they’re healthy and working correctly.
- Eye examinations to attempt to discover whether or not ocular degeneration or damage has occurred.
- ECG, or Electrocardigrams, which are designed to test the heart and determine whether or not it is functioning correctly, and if not, how badly the damage may be.
- Echocardiograms, which are ultrasound examinations of the heart in which sound waves, will display images of the heart when it beats and relaxes via a video monitor. This test is designed to detect potential damage to the heart such as enlargement, abnormalities, or even blood clots.
Other factors to consider
Just remember that, although a poor diet and poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, or excessive drinking, are considered to be some of the main causes of high blood pressure, there are a number of other factors to consider as well. For example, age is considered to be a large factor, as generally speaking, the older we are, the higher our blood pressure is likely to be. Our emotions and mental health and well-being can also affect our blood pressure readings, as the more worked up and stressed we become, the higher our blood pressure is likely to be as a result. Even physical activity and other medications may affect your blood pressure readings, so regarding how to diagnose blood pressure, just bear all of the above in mind.