How to tell if you have high blood pressure or low blood pressure

An optimal blood pressure reading should be 120/80 mmHg. (Photo: Getty Images)

Blood pressure (BP) is usually defined as the pressure used by the heart to pump the blood as it circulates in the body. Blood pressure is measured using the systolic (pressure in blood vessels when the heart beats) and diastolic (measured between heart rests) readings. Known as the silent killer, blood pressure can lead to heart strokes and other health problems if not taken care. An optimal blood pressure reading should be 120/80 mmHg.

Dr. Ajay Agarwal, director, department of internal medicine, Fortis Hospital, Noida tells the symptoms of high and low blood pressure and also suggests what patients should do in each case.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure often has no symptoms. Over time, if left untreated, it can cause health conditions such as heart disease and stroke. Hypertensive urgency is a condition when the BP is more than 190/100-this needs immediate attention and reduction by 25 per cent in the next six hours.

On the other hand, hypertensive emergency is a condition where BP is around 200/110 or more with end organ damage that is presenting as stroke, heart attack (MI), kidney failure – and in this scenario immediate admission and IV antihypertensives are used.

If left untreated, high blood pressure can cause health conditions such as heart disease and stroke. (Photo: Thinkstock Images)

Risk of High Blood Pressure

*Age: It's tends to rise with age.
*Race or ethnicity: Currently, estimates put the incidence of hypertension to 20 to 40 per cent in urban areas, and 12 to 17 per cent in rural areas of India.
*Weight: Prehypertension or high blood pressure are commonly found in people who are overweight and obese.
*Gender: High blood pressure is commonly found in men before the age of 55, and is commonly found in women after the age of 55.
*Family History: It's raises the risk of developing the risk of prehypertension or high blood pressure.

It is extremely important is to get regular health check up done to avoid late detection of hypertension, as early detection and commencement of treatment prevents complications.

Prevention of High Blood Pressure

Foods with high salt content should be avoided. (Photo: Thinkstock Images)

*Diet: A diet which is low in sodium, high in fruits and fiber should be taken. It is also important to limit the amount of salt you eat. Do not add salt to your food and avoid foods high in salt.

*Smoking and alcohol: Cigarette smoking is damaging to the heart and blood vessels. Alcohol can also raise blood pressure. It is also best to avoid or limit drinking.

*Exercise and meditation: Exercise and medication can help lower your blood pressure and reduce your weight. It will only help, however, if you exercise on a regular basis.

*Sleep: Eight hours of good sleep is a must for every adult.

Low Blood Pressure

When your blood pressure is low, you experience dizziness or lightheadedness, fainting (syncope), blurred vision, nausea, fatigue and lack of concentration. This condition mostly arises after episodes of volume losses that is acute diarrhea, vomiting, hormonal problems, allergic reactions or severe infections causing shock.

If low blood pressure continues for a long time, it can lead to serious problem like:

*Shock
*Stroke
*Heart Attack
*Kidney or even multi organ failure

Blood pressure patients should avoid drinking alcohol. (Photo by iStock / Getty Images)

Prevention of Low Blood Pressure

*Have fluids rich in electrolytes (ORS) at times of diarrhea, or to prevent heat stroke.
*Don't drink alcohol
*Avoid weight lifting
*Don't stand still in a place for long period of time
*Cross your legs while sitting
*Drink water
*Take some rest
*Eat something time to time