Blood pressure measures the force of blood in the artery walls. This measurement is recorded as a ratio of two numbers. The top number measures systolic pressure, which represents the force of blood when the heart is beating. The bottom number measures diastolic pressure, or blood pressure in between beats when the heart is relaxed. Blood pressure that is higher or lower than normal can bring about negative side effects in the body. According to the American Heart Association, normal levels fall at about 120/80. Even so, roughly one-third of adults in the United States have high blood pressure (also known as hypertension). Some cases of hypertension are caused by a coexisting medical condition or as a side effect of certain medications.
Symptoms and Treatment
In most cases, symptoms of high blood pressure don’t show themselves until levels are already very high. The American Heart Association recommends keeping up with regular checkups to monitor blood pressure. Certain risk factors are associated with hypertension. This includes poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, being overweight, and drug and alcohol use. If left untreated, hypertension can lead to heart failure, stroke, heart attack, kidney problems, vision loss or metabolic syndrome.
A recent study out of Florida State University found that watermelon might help reduce blood pressure in overweight people. In terms of treating high blood pressure, doctors typically advise patients to make lifestyle changes first. If these are ineffective, medications like diuretics, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors and more may be prescribed. Hypotension, or low blood pressure, can be caused by dehydration, infection, allergies, poor diet, pregnancy or a coexisting medical condition. According to the American Heart Association, having low blood pressure can make you feel dizzy, lightheaded or nausea. Blurred vision and fatigue are also signs. If not addressed, hypotension can increase the odds of experiencing an injury due to falling or fainting.
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