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Blood pressure numbers can indicate a healthy heart

(Paducah, Ky.) Feb. 24, 2020 - During Heart Month, Baptist Health Paducah wants to remind the public that knowing your blood pressure numbers is the first step to improving your heart health and protecting your vital organs.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, vision loss, and other problems. High blood pressure, called hypertension, can cause damage in your body for years before symptoms develop. That is why finding out your numbers is critical -- even if you feel fine.

Understanding Blood Pressure Numbers

A blood pressure reading consists of a top number and a bottom number. The top number is your systolic blood pressure; that is how much pressure your blood is putting on your artery walls during heartbeats. The bottom number, diastolic blood pressure, tells you how much pressure your blood is putting on your artery walls when the heart is at rest, between beats.

Category

Systolic reading

Diastolic reading

Normal blood pressure

Less than 120

and

Less than 80

Elevated blood pressure

120-129

and

Less than 80

Hypertension stage 1

130-139

or

80-89

Hypertension stage 2

140 or higher

or

90 or higher

Hypertensive crisis

Higher than 180

or

Higher than 120

New guidelines for what constitutes high blood pressure lowered the threshold from 140/90 to 130/80, resulting in nearly half the adults in the U.S. now having the condition.

If you are one of them, do not panic; high blood pressure can be lowered. The key is knowing you have it before it damages your body. It's important to talk to your doctor If you experience a combination of any of these symptoms:

  • Aching in the shoulder and chest - chest pains, especially on the left side, have long been a potential sign for an impending heart attack. Slow and gradual buildup of pain in the shoulder may indicate some unhealthy heart issues
  • Snoring and sleeping problems - episodes of sleep apnea, which can cause you to wake up gasping for air, cause inconsistent sleep patterns that can be stressful to the heart.
  • Difficulty with sexual function - Erectile dysfunction can be an early warning sign of current or future heart problems.
  • Irregular heartbeat known as arrhythmias can be an indication for heart failure or impending heart attack.
  • Sore gums and jaw - doctors have found gum diseases and heart issues are related. Pain running from the heart up to the jaw area is a common sign of a heart attack.
  • Puffy legs and feet - swelling in the lower extremities are caused by the improper flow of blood to the heart. This causes blood to clot up or completely stop your heart from working.
  • Shortness of breath and fatigue - blood vessels can get backed up due to an unhealthy heart and it starts spreading to places it shouldn't, like the lungs causing shortness of breath.
  • Dizzy/light headedness - This can be a sign that blood flow to the brain is restricted, which is the leading cause for strokes and heart attacks.
  • Persistent cough - a never-ending cough can be a sign of fluid building up in your lungs, which is a sign of congestive heart failure.
  • Random bouts of cold sweats - sweating, especially cold sweats, may be a sign of a problem with your heart when you are not doing any sort of physical activity, especially when there is chest pain associated with it. The sweat may come from your body tying to cool down the inflammation around the heart.


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