High blood pressure in Indians is very common and yet, only a minority of Indians with high BP are aware of their condition (High blood pressure why it matters for Indians)
High blood pressure is called a silent killer, because it can be present for years in a person without her having any symptoms. Often the first manifestations of high BP are its complications such as kidney damage, heart disease etc.
Therefore preventive health guidelines recommend that all adults should get their BP checked, starting as early as 18 years of age and then 3-5 yearly till their blood pressure remains optimum (less than 120/80)
Taking blood pressure reading correctly
Getting blood pressure readings correctly is important, because falsely high or low levels can hamper in diagnosis of hypertension. Find below the precautions that you need to take to avoid incorrect readings
- When you go to a clinic to get your BP measured, you should not smoke, have tea/coffee or do exercise within half an hour of the visit
- You should sit quietly for five minutes before the measurement
- Blood pressure should be taken in sitting or lying down position, with your arm at the level of your heart
- Blood pressure cuff size should be adequate: it should encircle your arm and cover nearly 80% of your arm length wise
- If you are getting BP measured for the first time, BP should be taken in both arms and the higher reading should be used
- If you are getting BP measured for the first time, two reading should be taken with a gap of 2-3 minutes
- MOST IMPORTANT: you should be labelled to be having high BP only after your BP has been taken on 2 separate visits (2 readings in each visit, as described above)
So, we advise you to not only get your own blood pressure measured, but also take your loved ones also to the clinic and get a baseline BP for all of you, so that this silent killer is not able to do any damage to you all!
What is normal blood pressure and what is considered high blood pressure?
Normal and high blood pressure definitions are a result of scientific/medical studies that observed various level of blood pressure and their relation with the complications including heart and kidney disease etc. These studies found that after the level of systolic blood pressure more than 120 (mm of Hg) and diastolic more than 80 (mm of Hg) , these risks start increasing, but the rate of increase is much higher after BP reaches more than 140/90.
Therefore the medical agencies have defined high blood pressure (hypertension) as more than 140 mm of Hg systolic and/or more than 90 diastolic; this level is used as target level to achieve by medication for people having high BP
But, they also define another entity called prehypertension, defined as blood pressure more than 120/80, at which level individuals should begin lifestyle modifications to keep their blood pressure low
The targets of blood pressure for people with high level of heart risks and with diabetes is 130-135/85 mm of Hg, to keep their risk of kidney disease in control
Thus the definition of normal blood pressure varies depending on why you are looking at it
Also read: Who should blood pressure readings at home? High blood pressure: ill effects and how to lower BP
CHECK OUT: FWI references for preventive health checks