High Diastolic Blood Pressure

The pressure in your vessels in between heartbeats is known as diastolic blood pressure. This is basically when your heart is resting. On the blood pressure reading, it is the bottom number. Low diastolic blood pressure is below 60 and high diastolic blood pressure is above 90. If high blood pressure is left untreated, it could increase the chances of getting a heart attack or a stroke. You might need to make some lifestyle changes like losing weight or take medications to remedy your condition.

What Does High Diastolic Blood Pressure Mean?

When your diastolic blood pressure is high, your blood vessels become less elastic, hardened and scarred. They are likely to rapture (resulting in organ damage or failure) or get blocked. Therefore, it is important to frequently check and ensure your blood pressure is normal to decrease the risk of a stroke, heart attack and organ failure.

The normal diastolic blood pressure usually ranges between 60 to 80 mmHg. If your diastolic blood pressure reading is 80-89, you need to pay special attention because you already have pre-hypertension. Otherwise, your condition may worsen and you may develop malignant hypertension in which your diastolic blood pressure is above 140. Symptoms of malignant blood pressure include:

  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headache

Diastolic pressure often changes throughout the day. It is advisable to check your blood pressure several times a day to get the average number. Factors that cause the fluctuation of diastolic pressure include:

  • Use of nicotine
  • Level of tension and exercise
  • Posture

Causes and Risk Factors of High Diastolic Blood Pressure

1. Age and Gender

The top risk factor is aging for both men and women, covering 90% of all the population with hypertension. Men above the age of 45 and women above 55 have a higher risk of getting the problem. However, hypertension is becoming more common in teenagers. Boys usually are at a higher risk than girls.

2. Race and Ethnicity

African-Americans are at a higher risk of getting hypertension compared to Caucasians and other ethnicities. Around 40% of African-American men and women have high blood pressure. African-Americans get hypertension at a younger age and it increases the risk of premature deaths from kidney failure, heart failure, heart attack and stroke.

3. Family History

If you have parents with hypertension, you are likely to get it too.

4. Obesity

One third of hypertension patients are overweight. Adults who are overweight have a double risk of getting high diastolic blood pressure compared with people with normal weight. Children and adolescents who are obese are a high risk of getting hypertension when they are adults.

5. Obstructive Sleep Apnea

This is a condition whereby breathing repeatedly stops during sleep. Most patients with hypertension have sleep apnea. The relation between the two conditions has been thought to be a result of obesity. But some studies are showing that people with sleep apnea also have hypertension regardless of their weight.

6. Lifestyle Factors

Smoking poses a risk of getting high diastolic blood pressure. Potassium and salt intake can also influence your blood pressure. Always avoid low potassium diet and high salt intake. Heavy alcohol intake can increase your blood pressure, too. Sedentary lifestyle can make you become overweight, ultimately leading to hypertension. Stress, both mental and physical, can increase your blood pressure temporarily.

7. Medical Conditions

Various medical conditions are related to high blood pressure, making hypertension even more difficult to control. They include kidney disease, diabetes, endocrine problems and coarctation of the aorta.

8. Medication

Many over-the-counter and prescription medications can cause an increase in blood pressure temporarily or make an existing condition worse. They include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen (Aleve), aspirin and ibuprofen (Motrin)
  • Corticosteroids administered intravenously or by mouth
  • Oral contraceptive
  • Cold medication decongestants containing pseudoephedrine

How to Manage High Diastolic Blood Pressure

1. Lifestyle Changes

If you have hypertension or prehypertension, it is advisable to implement the following lifestyle changes:

  • Do not smoke
  • Adjust to healthy diet – fresh vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products and low salt intake
  • Sustain healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly – at least 30 minutes of moderate activity every day
  • Decrease alcohol intake – no more than one drink a day for men over 65 and women of all ages

2. Medications

The doctor might prescribe the following medications:

  • Diuretics

These are water pills that flush out excess sodium and water from your body and lower your blood pressure. One option is thiazide since it has minimal side effects.

  • Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors

They make blood vessels widen. This is done by inhibiting the formation of angiotensin hormone.

  • Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers

They block angiotensin, making the blood vessels relax.

  • Beta Blockers

They work by blocking a specific nerve and hormonal signals to the blood vessels and the heart.

  • Calcium Channel Blockers

They prevent calcium from moving to the blood vessels and heart, relaxing the cells and decreasing your diastolic pressure.

  • Renin Inhibitors

Renin is produced by the kidneys and it increases blood pressure. Renin inhibitors reduce the ability of renin.

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