What is high blood pressure?
We could give the answer to the question, "What is High Blood Pressure?" in a few short statements about systolic and diastolic pressure, but to fully understand high blood pressure we need to start at the beginning.
The heart, constantly beating throughout life, never rests in the sense that other organs, such as the stomach, have resting phases. It's metabolic requirements are exceeded only by those of the brain.
We are lucky that it does the work by itself and since it is out of sight and out of mind we don't even have to worry about it at all. Right?
Wrong. If we ignore this amazing piece of equipment long enough it will eventually clog up and shut down - at the very least it will wear out.
You may wonder why I ask, "What is high blood pressure?" It's because heart attacks run rampant in my family. My father and his father, and his two brothers, all died from heart attacks in their early 70s. A number of women had heart attacks also but survived, except for my mother's sister, who was also claimed at an early age. Maybe they didn't know that they should have asked, "What is High Blood Pressure?" My mother had a quadruple by-pass and has always had high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Do you think I need to know about my heart so that I can protect it and even more important - so that I can educate my children, especially my sons, about their hearts and help them understand the question, "What Is High Blood Pressure?".
There are many factors which can cause heart disease. One of these is high blood pressure. So let's talk about that now.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
We have all experienced the blood pressure cuff. The nurse wraps the long strip of heavy fabric around our arm, then sticks the velcro end down and begins pumping a little ball at the end of a tube which is attached to the fabric (most are automatic now).
The cuff fills with air which squeezes our arm to an uncomfortable level. What the nurse is doing is cutting off the blood flow with this pressure. The heart has continued to pump so when the pressure is released the nurse is able to listen through the stethoscope and to actually hear the flow of the blood.
The first sound (s)he hears is the maximum output pressure of the blood beginning to flow again as our heart pumps. That number is the systolic number or the first number of our blood pressure, such as 120/80.
As the pressure continues to lower the nurse listens until there is no sound. The sound stops because there is less pressure. The reason there is less pressure is that the heart is relaxed between pumps. This number is the bottom number and is called the diastolic reading.
Systolic Pressure. Our beating heart contracts and relaxes, contracts and relaxes, contracts and relaxes. The contraction is what is called systolic pressure. While it is contracting it is forcing blood into the blood vessels that go to the lungs as well as the body.
Diastolic Pressure. The relaxation part of the heart beat is called diastolic pressure. The ventricles, which were emptied of blood when the heart contracted and forced the blood into the vessels, fills back up with the blood that comes from the upper chambers. Then the contraction and relaxation is repeated again.
If the heart has a hard time pumping the blood into the vessels and through our bodies, as can happen when the arteries narrow, it has to work too hard. This causes the systolic pressure and diastolic pressure to increase - thereby making our numbers go up, such as 140/90.
Our hearts are nourished by blood, too. Blood vessels called coronary arteries extend over the surface of our hearts and branch into smaller capillaries. If blood isn't pumped into these arteries as needed our hearts will suffer.
We should now be able to answer the question, "What is High Blood Pressure?" but there are other important things to know also. Such as:
Find those answers at our page on Arteries and Veins.Return from What Is High Blood Pressure to Namas Natural Remedies Home Page
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