What is normal blood pressure and is mine too high?
Let’s first start off by asking – what is normal blood pressure?
Why is there so much confusion about normal blood pressure levels? This question arises because there can be a huge variation in your blood pressure throughout the day. In the morning, when you first wake up your blood pressure might be 109/77 mmHg.
After you have had some breakfast it might change to 129/75 mmHg. Then you get to work, have some more coffee, answer a few emails and phone calls and suddenly your blood pressure is at 149/82 mmHg. Then your boss comes in and your blood pressure goes to 164/88 mmHg. By lunch time your blood pressure has fluctuated multiple times. But then you go out for lunch with some friends, you walk around a little and your more relaxed and have let off a little bit of steam. You check your blood pressure again and it is 129/70 mmHg.
So what is your “normal blood pressure”?
Here’s the thing.
Nobody’s blood pressure stays at a constant 120/80 mmHg. Your normal blood pressure fluctuates many times thoughout the day, even if you have “normal blood pressure” of 120/80. People with “normal blood pressure” can fluctuate into abnormal or high ranges when they are stressed, eat too much, drink alcohol, or during exercise. This does not mean that you have high blood pressure.
So how can you tell if you have high blood pressure if your normal blood pressure numbers can change so many times throughout the day?
People that do have high blood pressure, tend to have fluctuations in their numbers that change more dramatically. Difference of 60-80 mmHg can occur within just minutes. If you are the type of person that says “let me calm down for a minute” and have a drop from 190 to 130 mmHg, you are showing this swing in action. Typically those that have high blood pressure tend to have higher normal blood pressure numbers that stay high longer and more frequently than those with “normal blood pressure” of 120/80 mmHg.
Ideally, you would have someone follow you around all day taking your blood pressure to see how your pressure reacts to different circumstances, but this is not possible for most individuals. A practical way to monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis would be to get an ambulatory blood pressure monitor. These devices measure your blood pressure every 15 minutes and then you give the results to your doctor. Or you can have a stress test done by your doctor, which measures how your body does under stress. This gives your doctor a good idea of how your body reacts to stress.
Finally, you can just monitor your numbers at home at different times and with different circumstances, and this should give you a relatively good idea of what your normal blood pressure numbers are. But remember it is normal to have fluctuation throughout the day.
What exactly is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force which blood is pushed through your arteries. Since your blood doesn’t just run down hill, your heart pumps or squeezes, which pushes the blood forward. Then the heart relaxes. This cycle repeats with each heart-beat approximately 60 times per minute.
Systolic blood pressure is the pressure contained within your arteries from the pumping of the heart. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure contained within your arteries when the heart is relaxed. A measurement of 120/80 mmHg represents a value of 120 systolic and 80 diastolic. Blood pressure is measured in units of milligrams of mercury (mmHg). This is considered “normal blood pressure”.
By understanding what blood pressure is, you can understand the causes . For example if you were to increase the amount of fluid flowing through your arteries, you would have an increase in systolic pressure because the heart has to pump harder to push a larger volume of fluid through the artery. At the same time, you would have an increase in your diastolic numbers because there is less room in the artery during relaxation, so the pressure is higher. There are several factors that cause increases in fluid within the artery, thereby increasing blood pressure. These include salt intake, poor kidney function and high levels of renin, agiotensin or coritsol.
Another factor in high blood pressure is how flexible your arteries are. Arteries that are flexible can move along with the pulse of blood that comes through when your heart pumps. If you arteries are stiff, they do not expand as easily during this pumping action and so pressure increases. This happens with arteries that have an increased amount of atherosclerotic plaque. This is known as “hardening of the arteries.
Effects of high blood pressure on your body:
- Kidneys lose there ability to filter waste
- Heart plaque increases causing heart attacks
- Heart muscles thicken
- Internal heart pressure increases
- Shortness of breath
- Deterioration of brain tissue, leading to dementia
…and many more! Yet, you may not notice any of these side effects, which is why high blood pressure is known as the “silent killer”.
Is “Normal” Blood Pressure Too High?
A blood pressure reading of 120/80 mmHg is considered normal. But at just 115 mmHg measurable complications of blood pressure begin to appear. Systolic pressures above 115 mmHg can damage arteries and other organs leading to a shorter life. (2) And for every increase of 20/10 mmHg your risk of developing cardiovascular disease doubles. So while “normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg, ideally your numbers should be lower according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood institute. Blood pressure numbers between 120-139 / 80-89 mmHg are considered pre-hypertensive and you should consider lifestyle modifications at this point. If your blood pressure numbers are above 140/90 mmHg, you will typically be put on medications to bring your numbers down.
In a study done by Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic, it shows that even small decreases in blood pressure numbers have many health benefits. In this study a decrease from 129/78 mmHg to 124/76 mmHg shows a huge improvement in reductions of heart attacks, death and hospitalizations. In addition, this small decrease in blood pressure reduced arterial plaque growth.
Are you at risk of metabolic syndrome?
According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.
Metabolic Risk Factors
The five conditions described below are metabolic risk factors. You can have any one of these risk factors by itself, but they tend to occur together. You must have at least three metabolic risk factors to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.
- A large waistline. This also is called abdominal obesity or “having an apple shape.” Excess fat in the stomach area is a greater risk factor for heart disease than excess fat in other parts of the body, such as on the hips.
- A high triglyceride level (or you’re on medicine to treat high triglycerides). Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood.
- A low HDL cholesterol level (or you’re on medicine to treat low HDL cholesterol). HDL sometimes is called “good” cholesterol. This is because it helps remove cholesterol from your arteries. A low HDL cholesterol level raises your risk for heart disease.
- High blood pressure (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood pressure).
- High fasting blood sugar (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood sugar). Mildly high blood sugar may be an early sign of diabetes.
The amount of adults in the United States that have metabolic syndrome has increased dramatically over the last few years and nearly equals the number of “baby boomers”.
If you have high blood pressure, you are more likely to have or develop the other symptoms of metabolic syndrome and are at greatly increased risk of developing diabetes.
If you have metabolic syndrome, it is not too late. Look at other cultures who do not eat huge amounts of processed foods and are physically active most of the day. These people rarely have cardiovascular disease.
But there are also natural ways to get back on track.
How Nitric Oxide Controls Blood Pressure
The Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to Robert F. Furchgott, Louis J. Ignarro and Ferid Murad for their discoveries on Nitric Oxide.
From nobelprize.org – “Nitric Oxide (NO) is a signal molecule of key importance for the cardiovascular system and it was also found to exert a series of other functions. We know today that NO acts as a signal molecule in the nervous system, as a weapon against infections, as a regulator of blood pressure and as a gatekeeper of blood flow to different organs. NO is present in most living creatures and made by many different types of cells.
- When NO is produced by the innermost cell layer of the arteries, the endothelium, it rapidly spreads through the cell membranes to the underlying muscle cells. Their contraction is turned off by NO, resulting in a dilatation of the arteries. In this way, NO controls the blood pressure and its distribution. It also prevents the formation of thrombi.
- When NO is formed in nerve cells, it spreads rapidly in all directions, activating all cells in the vicinity. This can modulate many functions, from behaviour to gastrointestinal motility.
- When NO is produced in white blood cells (such as macrophages), huge quantities are achieved and become toxic to invading bacteria and parasites.
High blood pressure signifies an abnormal tendency for the body’s arteries to constrict. This is true of arteries in the arms and legs, the brain, the heart, and other areas. The ability to correct this abnormal effect may be essential to controlling blood pressure.”
Nitric oxide is now recognized as the single most powerful artery-dilating (or widening) agent known to medicine.
Nitric oxide has an extremely short life span and therefore a frequent supply is required to keep your arteries dilated and relaxed. When there is a decrease in nitric oxide with the inner lining of your arteries, your arteries constrict, causing a raise in your blood pressure.
High cholesterol, high blood pressure, inflammation, high blood sugar, high fat diets, and too much sugar are all contributing factors that reduce your bodies ability to produce nitric oxide. Metabolic syndrome has the same effect, as it increases plaque within the inner lining of the artery, making the arteries less able to produce nitric oxide, thus compounding the problem.
Since Nitric oxide is a gas outside of the body, how do you increase or supplement the amount of nitric oxide your body is producing?
Fortunately, there are several natural ingredients (Arginine, Pomegranate, L-Citrulline) that help produce nitric oxide. Arginine which is an amino-acid produces the most nitric oxide within the inner lining of the artery. All of these natural ingredients are in the Tikva product.
What About Antioxidants?
High blood pressure may also be increased when there is too much oxidative stress. Oxidents disable the ability for nitric oxide to dialate the artery and actually narrow your arteries, creating higher blood pressure.
Fortunately, oxidative stress can be reversed when you add enough antioxidants, such as coenzyme q-10, lycopene, grape seed extract, or selenium. These antioxidants are all in the Tikva product.
Coenzyme Q-10 stands out, as an extremely powerful antioxidant, that helps to lower high blood pressure. With combined data from eight different studies, CoQ10 in amounts from 50 – 200 mg daily were shown to lower systolic blood pressure by 16 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 10 mmHg.
Metabolic syndrome has become an increasingly important contributing factor to high blood pressure. Metabolic syndrome is controllable, mostly by a reduction in weight. For an easy and free way to lose weight, click here.
Antioxidants can play a significant role in reducing blood pressure, as they fight off oxidants that constrict or tighten your arteries.
Hypertension is called the silent killer and it affects millions of Americans. With a combination of lifestyle modifications and proper nutrition such as the ingredients found in the Tikva product, it is possible to decrease your blood pressure naturally. Reduced blood pressure is important to live a longer healthier life.