The best way to articulate an idea for oneself is to break down the idea into series of questions. That is what we will do to understand the idea of blood pressure. So, here are the questions in a progression from obviousness to importance.
What is blood pressure?
Do you know that if all the blood vessels in your body are lined up, it would take a distance of 95,000 kilometers, and every day these blood vessels carry the equivalent of 7,500 liters of blood? All this blood exerts a force on the inside muscular walls of the vessels. This force is known as blood pressure, and it rises and falls with the phases of the heartbeat. This pressure is highest when the heart contracts to force blood through the arteries and is known as systolic blood pressure. When the heart is at rest between the beats, blood pressure falls to its lowest value which is known as diastolic blood pressure. The systolic and diastolic pressure in a typical healthy individual range from 90-120 mm of hg and 60-80 mm of hg respectively. So, on average the normal reading of blood pressure is around 120/80 mm of hg.
What are the factors causing high blood pressure?
As in any plumbing system, things that can increase the force on the walls of pipes are the properties of fluid, extra fluid, or narrowed. Our circulatory system is like this plumbing system and an increase in blood pressure occurs somewhat because of the same reasons; that is:
- If the blood thickens, higher pressure is required to push it and therefore the heart will pump harder.
- Also, a high salt diet leads to a similar result as salt promotes water retention, and extra volume of fluid increases the blood pressure.
- Lastly, in stress-like conditions, hormones such as epinephrine or norepinephrine are released which constricts vessels at certain points causing the increase in resistance to flow and thus raises the pressure of the blood.
What can high blood pressure do?
Though blood vessels are structurally fit to handle these problems, if your blood pressure regularly rises above 140/90 mm of hg and stays like that for a long time then you are in a state of hypertension which can cause you serious problems. The reason behind these problems is that the extra strain on the arterial wall produces small tears and wears and at those places tissue swells up. Due to the swelling, immune responses such as white blood cells are sent to that position which bonds to the inflammation and collects around the tear which causes the fat and cholesterol to accumulate there too. This causes the formation of a hardened plaque in the inner arterial wall leading to a condition called atherosclerosis. This condition can have dangerous consequences such as completely blocking the oxygen and nutrients to the cells downstream which is the primary reason for episodes such as heart attack, stroke, etc.
Highly clogged blood vessels are widened by angioplasty.
How to lower high blood pressure?
The only clever way to deal with high blood pressure is that to know its cause and for that consulting a physician is necessary. Apart from that healthy eating, exercising, reducing sodium intake, avoiding stress are some of the general protocols to control blood pressure.