High blood pressure (HBP), also known as hypertension, is exactly what the name suggests. It is an extremely high reading of blood pressure. Having HBP puts you at incredible risk for stroke and heart attack, which makes it important that you know how to apply first aid for high blood pressure.
How is Blood Pressure Measured?
The blood pressure readings are understood using two numbers, with the unit mmHg or millimeters of mercury.
- The first number is systolic, referring to the pressure in your arteries at the moment your heart pumps out blood
- The second number is diastolic or the pressure in your arteries in between heartbeats. Systolic readings are more important for older patients above the age of 50 as it could be hypertensive independent of the diastolic reading. This means that although the diastolic reading is at normal levels, the systolic could reach extremely high levels especially past the age of 65.
While normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg, an intermediate-range exists for cases wherein the patient is not necessarily hypertensive but the systolic reading is above normal and the diastolic could be below normal. This is often denoted as an “elevated” heart rate with 120-129 mmHg systolic and less than 80 mmHg diastolic.
When are You Considered Hypertensive?
Hypertension begins at a systolic reading of 130 mmHg and diastolic readings of 80 to 90 mmHg.
- Stage 1 hypertension. Readings are 130 – 139 mmHg for systolic and 80 – 89 mmHg for diastolic.
- Stage 2 hypertension. Readings of 140/90 mmHg and above
Blood pressure readings are expected to vary throughout the day. This means that it takes multiple visits and multiple measurements for someone to be diagnosed with hypertension. The doctor may also request an ambulatory blood pressure monitoring where your blood pressure is monitored within a 24-hour period.
First Aid and Emergencies
The thing about first aid for high blood pressure is that it is largely focused on seeking medical attention when needed.
To know when your blood pressure is spiking, you must monitor and read your blood pressure at regular intervals at home. Most forms of immediate treatment for high blood pressure come as prescribed medicine since there is no instantaneous remedy to high blood pressure.
So if you are wondering how to lower blood pressure instantly in an emergency, your best bet is calling emergency responders immediately.
This is the ideal response especially if you have the symptoms of either a heart attack or a stroke.
These symptoms include pain or pressure in the:
- Neck and jaw
- Upper belly
This may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms like:
- Excessive sweating
- Vision changes
- Sudden numbness or tingling
Good Habits and Maintenance
Taking maintenance medicine
One of the most sustainable and effective ways of avoiding and living with high blood pressure is being diligent with medication. Maintenance medicine needs to be taken as prescribed because once you stop, your blood pressure goes back up. In taking medication, take it exactly as prescribed by a healthcare professional and be safe.
Exercising also helps keep your blood pressure down. A half-hour to an hour of movement is the key for healthy living and this brings benefits for your strength, mood, and balance as well. This reduces risks for heart disease and diabetes which may be elevated due to hypertension.
Stress raises your blood pressure for certain durations and the more often or constantly you’re stressed, the longer these periods of time last. Hence, aiming for an active, stress-free lifestyle is the goal when living with hypertension.
Change in diet and lifestyle
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet that has been proven to lower one’s high blood pressure by as much as 11 mmHg systolic.
This diet focuses on
- Whole grains
- Low-fat alternatives
- Lean meat
Cutting back on saturated fat found in processed food, full-fat dairy, and fatty meat, as well as sweetened beverages, also help in addressing hypertension and reducing diabetes risks.
Lessening salt intake
Using salt sparingly in your diet is vital in lowering blood pressure because sodium intake causes the body to retain fluid that then causes blood pressure to spike. According to the AHA, 1.5 – 2.5 grams of salt per day is ideal so instead of adding salt, use herbs and spices in your food.
Achieving healthier BMI can also help lower your blood pressure but what’s more important is losing your visceral fat, which is the fat deposit along your waistline. Visceral fat surrounds vital organs in your abdominal area which causes complications including high blood pressure.
Quitting smoking would also be beneficial for lowering your blood pressure since cigarettes raise your blood pressure temporarily in the duration you are smoking and shortly after. The more you smoke, the longer that duration is. Smoking also puts you in danger of heart attack and stroke, which are also related to high blood pressure.
Limit alcohol consumption
Regulating your intake of alcohol to one to two drinks a day would be ideal since alcohol is known to reduce the effectiveness of certain blood pressure medication. Feel free to have some red wine occasionally since it could bring heart benefits in moderation.
In general, hypertension is something that requires a holistic change in lifestyle. This means that getting medical help early on will be greatly beneficial to how well patients are able to respond to treatment. When it comes to first aid for high blood pressure, it is best to consult a doctor. If the high blood pressure is accompanied by pain or difficulty breathing, seek immediate help as this is considered a medical emergency.
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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.