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What is Blood Pressure?

As a basic rule of Physiology, to keep a human alive, the heart must pump blood to the body’s organs and tissues. Each beat pushes blood through large vessels, creating pressure against their walls. Blood pressure describes how strongly your blood presses against the walls of your arteries as it moves through your body.

Blood pressure is influenced by two factors. Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats and pumps blood. Diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart relaxes between beats. Diastolic pressure is always lower than systolic pressure.

 

Understanding the reading of blood pressure

Blood pressure is typically measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and is represented by two numbers: systolic pressure and diastolic pressure.

The American Heart Association outlines various categories and thresholds for blood pressure readings to establish guidelines for managing blood pressure. These numbers and thresholds are detailed in the following picture.

 

 

Stage 1 hypertension, also referred to as prehypertension, signals a potential future risk of developing high blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure raises the chances of experiencing heart attack, stroke, coronary heart disease, heart failure, and kidney failure. Making a few lifestyle adjustments may be sufficient for managing this condition.

Stage 2 hypertension is commonly observed in older individuals who are at a heightened risk for cardiovascular events. Symptoms such as headaches, shortness of breath, or nosebleeds may occur, although many people may not notice any significant symptoms. Treatment typically involves prescribing one or more blood pressure medications and advising comprehensive lifestyle changes.

Severe hypertension, also known as hypertensive crisis or stage 2 hypertension, is not a normal progression but rather an emergency situation. This condition can lead to damage in blood vessels and major organs. Symptoms include severe headaches, increased anxiety, difficulty breathing, and nosebleeds. The primary objective of treatment during a hypertensive crisis is to promptly lower the blood pressure to a safe level.

Therefore, it is crucial to know what factors and organs can control and influence blood pressure.

 

What Controls Blood Pressure

In fact, several factors and organs influence and control blood pressure, meaning that any medication may affect some, but not all, of these components. Some of the key factors and organs are:

  1. Heart: Cardiac output (CO), the volume of blood pumped by the heart each minute, directly impacts blood pressure. An increase in CO raises blood pressure, thereby enhancing blood flow.
  2. Blood Vessels: The narrower and stiffer the vessels, the higher the blood pressure.
  3. Kidneys: The kidneys regulate blood pressure through two primary mechanisms. First, they control the diameter of blood vessels; wider vessels reduce pressure, while narrower vessels increase it. Second, they manage the retention or excretion of water, regulated by hormones. As kidney function declines, water retention and vessel constriction occur, leading to high blood pressure.
  4. Nervous System: The autonomic nervous system helps regulate blood pressure by affecting stroke volume, heart rate, and systemic vascular resistance.
  5. Hormones: Various hormones play a role in blood pressure regulation. The endocrine system, consisting of several glands, secretes these hormones.
  • Adrenal Glands: Overproduction of aldosterone, cortisol, or adrenaline-like hormones can cause high blood pressure.
  • Thyroid Gland: Both underactive (hypothyroidism) and overactive (hyperthyroidism) thyroid conditions can lead to high blood pressure.
  • Pituitary Gland: Issues with the pituitary gland can cause high blood pressure by overstimulating the adrenal and thyroid glands.
  • Parathyroid Glands: Excessive production of parathyroid hormone can increase blood pressure.
  • Pancreas: In obese adults, elevated insulin levels and insulin resistance, originating from the pancreas, may contribute to high blood pressure.

 

To have a comprehensive understanding of blood pressure, it’s essential to maintain control over it. Despite the abundance of blood pressure monitors available, some may not accurately measure blood pressure, potentially leading to incorrect prescriptions. The Arteriograph, with its invasive validation, stands out as the recommended choice.

 

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