High Blood Pressure .pdf
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How do I know if I have high blood pressure?
1st Edition (Revision 1)
Copyright 2012 - Julian Beams
For more information please visit http://beatbloodpressure.weebly.com/
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
There is a reason that high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is known as a silent killer.
High blood pressure can be fatal, but most sufferers don't even know they have high blood pressure. The
problem is that there is a lot of “folk wisdom” around symptoms that indicate high blood pressure. The
facts are a bit different.
My father had a stroke at 53 because of undiagnosed high blood pressure. Thankfully he made a full recovery.
Despite this warning, and though I was paying attention, I never knew that I had high blood pressure till the day
my BP was taken for an unrelated reason in 2006. The nurse who took my blood pressure referred me
immediately to a clinic for monitoring. The fact is that most hypertension sufferers don't have symptoms, or the
symptoms are so subtle that they avoid detection.
Some of the symptoms that people believe are associated with hypertension are;
low libido or lack of sexual desire
The problem with this list is that although people with hypertension may have some or several of
these symptoms, they occur just as frequently in those people who do not have the condition. That
makes them less than useless for self diagnosis.
Scientific Study: Headaches
It seems intuitive that high blood pressure would cause headaches and alert you to the problem. In fact a
study published in the journal “Neurology” in 2008  concluded that high blood pressure may actually
reduce the prevalence of headaches. The finding supports other research that shows that the mechanisms
that cause high blood pressure, may actually prevent blood vessels constricting and causing headaches.
This study used the data from two previous large and authoritative studies into the prevalence of high
blood pressure. This means we can fairly much accept the findings as gospel.
Research into other “symptom sets” have proved similarly fruitless.
So, let me stress then, there are no definitive symptoms of high
When is blood pressure considered high?
When referring to high blood pressure, we’re talking about a higher pressure than is normal under the
circumstances, or generally higher than normal. The general consensus among healthcare professionals
is that optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg (systolic pressure is 120 AND diastolic
pressure is less than 80) as measured by a monitor. This means your blood pressure is considered high if,
over time, it is measured as being above 120/80 mm Hg.
There are degrees of hypertension and often different healthcare authorities have slightly different classifications,
but roughly readings till 139/99 are considered to be pre-hypertensive, readings up to 159/99 to be first stage
hypertensive, and readings over 160/100 are second stage hypertensive.
So how do I really know if I have high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is most often discovered by screening or when seeking healthcare for an unrelated
problem (as in my case). It is not surprising that one of the first things a doctor or nurse does when you
visit, is to take your blood pressure!
If you ignore your blood pressure because you think symptoms will alert you to the problem, you are
taking a dangerous chance with your life. Everybody needs to know their blood pressure numbers, and
the only way to do this is through regular screening.
This sounds fairly simple. Surely it is just be a case of going to a health
professional and having your blood pressure taken?
There are a number of problems with this!
Firstly, your blood pressure is constantly changing due to a variety of factors, it rises and falls
throughout the day in response to what you are doing and what is happening around you.
Secondly, research has indicated a condition called the “white coat effect”. This means that your blood
pressure can read higher when it is taken in a medical setting, than it is when taken at home as we tend
to feel more tense in a medical settings than we do in familiar surroundings.
What all this means is that several measurements are of blood pressure should be taken before an
accurate diagnosis can be made.
One way of doing this is for blood pressure to be automatically measured every 15 minutes for 24 hours,
and the results recorded. There are several types of electronic blood pressure monitors that fit on your
wrist or arm that do this. It may even be possible to rent such a device from a local drug store or doctor's
Alternatively, you can measure your own pressure. Home digital monitors are accurate, reliable and easy
to use. You will need to take readings at the regular intervals over a day, at the same time each day, and
under the same conditions.
The best times are immediately on waking up, at midday and in the late afternoon, but before having any
food, drink or cigarettes. If you have your main meal in the afternoon, then the late afternoon
measurement should rather be taken before bed time. Take measurements every day for at least two
Both of these methods suppose that you have access to technology or the money to buy or rent the
technology. The route I followed in being diagnosed with high blood pressure is probably more typical.
Want to know how blood pressure is measured?
I live in Africa and although I have access to technology it is relatively expensive. I was referred to
clinic and my blood pressure was taken every morning for three days. I'm not sure if the long wait
service helped me calm down, or made me more anxious. Later I found that clinic services at my local
drug store would take my blood pressure by appointment, for a small fee.
After my three days of visits I was referred to doctor who prescribed medication. By that time I had
bought myself an electronic blood pressure monitor. I remember it well as I bought it on the budget
account of my credit card, a difficult decision to make at the time. I've never regretted it. I began to
record my blood pressure three times a day and had a week of data by the time I was able to see the
doctor. My measurements served to confirm that I did indeed have high blood pressure.
I continued to measure and record for a further six months and this allowed me to see the actions of the
medication as well as what happened if I skipped taking the medication.
So, take action and get your readings to determine if
you are suffering from high blood pressure! Don't
ignore this as undiagnosed high blood pressure can
result in a stroke
For more information please visit http://beatbloodpressure.weebly.com
High pulse pressure protects against headache:Prospective and cross-sectional data (HUNT study)
E. Tronvik, MD, L. J. Stovner, MD, PhD, K. Hagen, MD, PhD, J. Holmen, MD, PhD and J-A Zwart, MD, PhD
Neurology, April 15, 2008 vol. 70 no. 16 1329-1336