High blood pressure is one of the most common health conditions and one of the biggest killers in the world. Unlike low blood pressure, it has very few noticeable symptoms until a stroke or heart attack kills or disables the patient. According to the American Heart Association, as many as 1 in 3 Americans have high blood pressure, only half of whom have their condition under control. Having even slightly raised blood pressure can increase the risk of dying from heart disease substantially. About 1000 people die everyday from high blood pressure health problems.
Many people do not know what is normal blood pressure, or even get tested. Test rates have increased substantially over the past 30 years, but a lot of work needs to be done to raise awareness. Blood pressure is related to diet, stress, lifestyle choices, diseases like kidney disease, medication, genetics and other environmental factors like pollution. These are just some of the risk factors associated with high blood pressure. Getting it under control is relatively straightforward for people who are not obese or suffering from diabetes, but it can still be difficult, depending on the causes.
In order to know what normal blood pressure is, it helps to understand what blood pressure is and how it is affected by those factors.
What is Normal Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure (hypertension) is the condition of the pressure in the vascular system being above an accepted standard level. When the heart beats, it produces a systole, this is the outgoing blood pressure. When the systolic pressure is less than 120 mm/Hg (millimetres of mercury) and above 90 mm/Hg it is regarded as in the normal range.
As the heart rests between pumps, this stage is known as the diastole. When the diastolic blood pressure is below 80 mm/Hg and above 60 mm/Hg it is in the normal range. The top number is the systolic number, the bottom number is the diastolic number. A normal blood pressure level is therefore 120 over 80 mm/Hg. When the blood pressure is between 120 over 80 mm/Hg and 140 over 90 mm/Hg, it is considered elevated blood pressure. It can be a risk to the health and is well worth reducing to the normal level in order to keep the heart healthy.
High blood pressure is when the blood pressure measurement is 140/90 mm/Hg. This is known as stage 1 hypotension, or high blood pressure. This could be the result of a number of factors, and one high blood pressure reading is not enough to diagnose chronic high blood pressure. Especially stressful events can raise blood pressure over these guideline limits, which is perfectly normal. It is only when the condition is chronic that it becomes a serious risk.
Stage 2 hypertension is a blood pressure measurement of above 160/100 mm/Hg. Severe hypotension is systolic blood pressure above 180 mm/Hg or diastolic blood pressure above 100 mm/Hg.
Now that you know what is normal blood pressure, knowing what causes high blood pressure is the next step to keeping yourself safe.
Type 1 and 2 diabetics are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and people who develop high blood pressure are more likely to suffer from diabetes. By reducing weight, sugar intake, exercising more, stopping smoking, and reducing stress, both these conditions can be alleviated to a degree. Sometimes, when diabetes is successfully treated, it can cause the problems with high blood pressure to go away and vies versa.
One of the effects of smoking is a raised heart rate and blood pressure. There is the immediate effect of the nicotine and carbon dioxide in the blood causing raised blood pressure. In the long term smoking can result in the clogging of arteries, damage to the lungs and general ill health as well as high blood pressure. By quitting smoking, you can reduce the chances of suffering from high blood pressure significantly. It can take between 6 months and a year for the vascular system to return to normal if no permanent damage to the blood vessels has occurred.
High fat, high salt, or high sugar diets (or any combination of the three) all contribute to high blood pressure. A body with a high concentration of fat around the internal organs and under the skin needs more energy to pump the blood around itself, so the heart works harder. Combined with the narrowing of the arteries that poor diet can cause, high blood pressure is an almost inevitable consequence of a poor diet.
By not exercising, the heart is not maintaining its fitness. This can cause hypotension (low blood pressure) or hypertension, depending on other factors. Even 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day can reduce your risk of hypertension related disease substantially.
Some people are more predisposed to suffer from hypertension than others. Groups like African-Americans have a higher risk of developing hypertension than Caucasians or East Asians. This is simply due to their genetic heritage. There is nothing that can currently be done about it. However, by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, people from at-risk groups can massively reduce the risk of dying from heart attacks.
Some widely used drugs like alcohol, corticosteroids, caffeine, antidepressants like venlafaxine, ephedrine, nicotine and migraine medicines can cause hypotension. The risks of heart attack can be worth relief from symptoms of some diseases, but in order to counter their effects, they need to be taken alongside a healthy lifestyle.
Cannabidiol is one of the cannabinoids isolated from the cannabis plant. It has been illegal for a long time, but finally the scientific community is being allowed to study it and the results are hopeful. There have been reports of children undergoing treatment for severe illnesses who were administered cannabinoids and developed temporary hypotension as a result. This is far from conclusive and has not been studied in a scientific manner, but it raises the risk of cannabinoids being a “possible” cause of hypotension. In one case, when the dose was controlled, blood pressure remained at normal levels even during fever and sepsis, which is not usually what happens.
Other, larger studies evaluating many different studies (meta-analysis) have found that “physiological parameters are not altered (heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature)” when CBD is administered.
Clearly, the picture about the effects of CBD on blood pressure is far from clear. Overall, the safety record of CBD is very good. It has a number of positive effects on several conditions, and the side effects, when they do occur, are rare and not severe for the vast majority of people.
It is difficult, however, to make a properly informed decision about how effective CBD might be in treating your high blood pressure. If you are considering using CBD, make sure that it is legal in the place that you live. CBD can be obtained in very pure forms, which is recommended if you are going to experiment with this drug. Having a dose that is comparable to every other dose will help your measure its effectiveness and whether the dose should be raised, lowered or discontinued.
Because of the relative newness of using this drug and the lack of solid evidence, it should only be taken in consultation with your doctor. They will have read up on the evidence and be able to recommend the safest course of action for you. If you do not inform them you are taking CBD, they will be unable to properly interpret your symptoms and the treatments they recommend could be harmful.