Let’s first take a look at what drives your blood pressure. Unlike a river, which flows continuously downstream, blood flow is pulsatile, with ebb and flow driven by pumping heart muscle. This cycle repeats itself 60 or so times each minute, every time your heart beats. With each heartbeat occurring about once per second, the heart squeezes, or contracts, within a split-second. The rapid contraction forces about 90 cc of blood (approximately 1/3 cup) up, pushing the aortic valve open, and blood passes up into the aorta and rapidly distributes upward to the brain (via the carotid arteries on either side of the neck), the arms, and downward to the abdomen, pelvis, and legs. The force of heart contraction and its rapid distribution to the body is measured as systolic pressure, or the top number in blood pressure. As the 90 cc or so of ejected blood distributes rapidly throughout the body, pressure in all the arteries drops over the ensuing half second, and the aortic valve closes. Th...
Over the last few weeks we’ve been focusing on high blood pressure and the difficulties this can cause. But, having low blood pressure, or hypotension, can also be problematic.
A normal blood pressure reading is usually in the range of 120/80 (systolic/diastolic); low blood pressure is less than 90/60.
If you’re an athlete, low blood pressure is usually a sign of good cardiovascular health. But, in the elderly for example, it may be a sign of an underlying problem. Low blood pressure is however, only a medical concern if it causes signs or symptoms, such as dizziness, fainting, or in extreme cases, shock.
Some of the causes of low blood pressure include:
Acute illnesses which leads to severe blood loss or damage to the heart
Diseases involving the nerves controlling the veins in the legs
Hormonal problems such as an underactive thyroid, overactive thyroid, or diabetes
Loss of blood, or loss of fluid
Low or high body temperature
In one word, potassium. Nearly 95% of the high blood pressure in the world is known as primary, essential, or idiopathic hypertension . It is called this because no clear underlying cause can be identified. Instead, doctors simply treat the high blood pressure, never actually curing it. The underlying mechanism of such high blood pressure involves sodium chloride, otherwise known as salt . Groups of people who eat less than 3 grams of sodium chloride per day rarely have high blood pressure. Although most people who have high blood pressure consume 3 to 6 grams of salt per day, the opposite is not necessarily true. In other words, most people who do consume a large amount of sodium do not have high blood pressure . It thus seems that high sodium intake is necessary but not enough to raise one’s pressure. The missing element is potassium. If one has both a high sodium and a low potassium diet, high blood pressure is likely to result. A Western diet, such as in the United Stat...
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