Heart pumps blood into arteries, these arteries gets further divided into capillaries in order to carry blood to organs, tissues and cells of body. Veins bring back deoxygenated blood to the heart. Such movement of blood is possible only when blood is under pressure to move forward. Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by the arteries into walls of blood vessel.
Blood pressure can be measured in terms of two readings- systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressures it the pressure exerted blood on the walls of arteries when heart is beating. It denotes maximum rise in blood pressure when the heart beats. Diastolic blood pressure is the force exerted by blood when heart is relaxed and it denotes minimum fall in blood pressure when heart relaxes. Both systolic and diastolic pressure is measures in terms of millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
The optimum blood pressure reading is written in the form of 120/90 mmHg. Do you know which systolic blood pressure number in it is? Well the top number represents systolic blood pressure and lower one represents diastolic blood pressure. As blood pressure varies among individuals depending upon their age, sex, race, habits and lifestyle, normal range of systolic blood pressure ranges from 90-135mmHg and for diastolic it is 50-90mmHg.
Measurement of Blood Pressure
Systolic blood pressure is measured by an instrument called as sphygmomanometer. It consists of a small pressure gauge which is attached to a cuff. This inflatable cuff is wrapped around arm, an inch above elbow and a stethoscope is placed around large brachial artery of arms to listen heart beats. The cuff is inflated to 30mmHg higher than the last recorded systolic blood pressure. The cuff is then slowly deflated. The first sound heard by stethoscope is the systolic blood pressure. It is recognised by whooshing sounds and when no pulse pressure is audible, that point is recorded as diastolic blood pressure. Record both the reading like 120/9 where 120mmHg is a systolic blood pressure reading and 90 is and diastolic blood pressure reading.
Some patient might show rise in blood pressure in doctor’s clinic. This condition is known as “white coat hypertension”. In such circumstances, patients especially those who are suffering from high blood pressure are advised to measure their blood pressure at home. All necessary instruction must be given by doctors to patient for carrying out blood pressure measurement accurately. Avoid caffeine, cigarettes or exercise at least before 30 minutes prior to test. While measuring blood pressure at home, patients are advised to sit up straight in chair, and place their legs on floor. Keep your arm on table or in any even surface. Then wrap cuff around your arm. If the size of cuff is not proper, consult doctor and ask him to replace it. In order to maintain consistency in results, perform the test at the same time of the day. Take several reading about 1 minute apart and record each reading into journal. Take readings to your doctors place so that he can analyse any changes and accordingly decide your treatment plans.
Types of Systolic Blood Pressure
Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure is essential to measure the potential of developing high blood pressure. Rise in any of reading might lead to hypertension.
Below is the classification of blood pressure readings for adults of more than 18 years of age or above.
Suppose your systolic blood pressure is too low i.e. below 90mmhg, blood is not able to supply oxygen and nutrients to body cells which may lead to death of cells. Such condition is known as hypotension or low blood pressure.
If the systolic blood pressure ranges between 120-140 mmHg, the person has condition called as prehypertension or borderline systolic blood pressure. It is very important to bring blood pressure reading to normal level either by dietary measures or lifestyle changes, as further elevation might lead to hypertension.
If both systolic and diastolic blood pressure is high i.e. above 140mmHg and 90mmHg respectively, the person is said to have been suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure.
In some cases, only systolic blood pressure is high (above 140mmHg), whereas diastolic reading stays normal (around 90mmHg), such condition is known as Isolated systolic hypertension (ISH). Around 65% of people above age 60yrs. are suffering from ISH.
Systolic blood pressure is the major criteria for diagnosis, staging and therapeutic management of hypertension mainly in middle age and older animal. Systolic blood pressure increases with age, whereas diastolic blood pressure increases up to age of 55 and then declines. Thus diastolic BP is inversely related with cardiovascular risk. The people having BP reading of 160/100 mmHg is at greater risk of developing heart problems than person with BP reading of 160/80 mmHg.
The prognosis of high blood pressure is governed by the fact that as age increases, the arteries stiffens due to replacement of elastin by collagen on the wall of arteries. This process is knows as arteriosclerosis. This finally brings about lengthening and dilation of aorta and its branches.
Health risk factors
Wide pulse pressure and high systolic BP is one of the main risk factor in development of cardiovascular diseases. Elevated systolic hypertension is a major cause for heart failure. It may also bring about kidney failure and stroke. High systolic blood pressure can also interact with other deceases like hypercholesterolemia and diabetes which also gets prevalent with increasing age and thus amplifying the age related risk of cardiovascular events.
It is very important to control high systolic and diastolic pressure. This can be accomplished by treatment with antihypertensive drugs which mainly includes beta blockers, angiotensin converting enzymes and diuretics. Most importantly there’s need to change lifestyle. Say good bye to sedentary lifestyle and Start your day with regular exercise or yoga, focus more on healthy diet and quit alcohol, fast foods and cigarettes. Aim should be to bring systolic blood pressure below 140mmHg.