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To Your Health: Pay Attention to Your Blood Pressure

Most lobster boats today are equipped with hydraulic systems, specifically a hauler to hoist heavy lobster traps from the water. Hydraulic systems work through the pressure created by liquid or gas moving through pipes via a pump. If that pressure gets too great, however, it can damage the hydraulic equipment, which can be time-consuming and expensive to repair.

From the American Heart Association.

Your blood pressure is somewhat similar. Blood pressure is the amount of force the heart uses to push blood through arteries and capillaries throughout your body every second of the day. Each time the heart contracts, it forces blood out of the ventricles into the circulatory system. If something is inhibiting the blood’s movement, like clogged or stiff blood vessels, then the pressure goes up. High blood pressure means that the heart has to work too hard to push the blood through the body.

One of the first things checked when you go to a doctor’s office is your blood pressure using a blood pressure cuff. The cuff gives two numbers, your systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Systolic is the pressure of your blood moving against artery walls when your heart muscle contracts. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure of blood in the arteries while the heart rests between beats. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm). In general, normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm; high blood pressure is a reading of 130/80 mm or greater. Blood pressure will change based on your activities, going higher when you are exercising or in pain, dropping lower when you are resting or reading a book.

High blood pressure is a major problem in the U.S. It’s often called the “silent killer” because there are few signs of its presence. It affects 47% of adults in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association. Of those, 37 million have a blood pressure of at least 140/90 mm. In 2020, high blood pressure caused or contributed to over 670,000 deaths in the U.S.

Most people find that their blood pressure increases as they get older. The systolic reading goes up because the large arteries have become less flexible, plaque has built up in the arteries over time, and older individuals tend to have higher rates of heart and blood vessel diseases.

But high blood pressure is found in people of all ages. Factors that contribute to the condition include unhealthy eating patterns, including a diet high in sodium, lack of physical activity, and over-consumption of alcohol. Other causes include some medications, such as oral contraceptives or anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen, kidney disease, sleep apnea, and tobacco use.

You do not want to have untreated high blood pressure. The long-term effects on the human body are generally bad and can include coronary artery disease, stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, eye damage, and vascular dementia.

If you do have high blood pressure, it can be treated with medications or in some cases by simple lifestyle changes. The first is to pay attention to your diet, cut out the salt and highly processed foods, and lose weight. You should make sure you are getting enough potassium from your food. Getting regular exercise, at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week, will bring blood pressure down by actually creating more blood vessels to carry blood through the body.

No one wants their body’s hydraulic system to blow a gasket. No one wants to live a life in fear of stroke, heart attack, or developing dementia. Making sure you know your blood pressure and keeping it at 120/80 mm or below is extremely important, no matter what your age.

For more information, click HERE and HERE.


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