This is a new section where you can email your questions about blood pressure and I’ll do my best to answer them here on the website. If I can’t answer the question myself I will endeavour to get a health professional to answer it for you, but no guarantees.
Please note: I am not able to answer medical questions specific to you. I know a lot about blood pressure in general, but I am not a doctor or trained health professional and I know nothing about you! I cannot answer very specific medical questions relating to your symptoms, condition and medication. These are questions to ask your own doctor, as he/she will know you and have your medical files and history to help answer the questions. I urge you, if you have medical questions about your blood pressure – see your doctor and don’t
be afraid to ask questions.
If you have a question about your blood pressure, send it in and I'll get it answered for you.
Question (from Lorna): My question is what makes your BP high on one side of your body?
Answer (by Rich): It is quite common to have a small difference in blood pressure between arms and this isn't usually a problem. That said, if you have a difference of more than 20 mm Hg systolic or more than 10 mmHg diastolic, this could be a symptom of an underlying issue such as diabetes, heart defects, kidney disease or blocked arteries in your arm. Additionally, white-coat hypertension can be an issue here as for example – if you measure your blood pressure in your usual arm and it is higher than expected, this can cause anxiety and raise blood pressure, so when you check the other arm, the reading appears higher.
If you have a large difference in blood pressure between your arms, or you are concerned about any issue relating to your blood pressure, discuss this with your doctor and ask to have your blood pressure measured on each arm by the doctor. If you feel your concerns and anxieties are not being managed by your doctor, ask for a second opinion. Doctors shouldn't just make you physically better, they should also explain and address concerns and make you feel better mentally.
Question (from Ben): When I take my blood pressure at home I get lower readings if I relax and take my blood pressure with my eyes shut. Is it ok to take my blood pressure with my eyes shut or does that affect the reading?
Answer (by Rich): Providing you are still sitting upright, feet flat on the floor and arm supported at correct height etc, closing your eyes is fine, in fact it is something I often do myself as it helps me relax. I believe the readings are a little lower because like me, you feel a bit more relaxed with your eyes closed and that is totally fine.
Question (from Joyce): I have read somewhere that one should be concerned if the difference between the systolic and diastolic pressure readings widens significantly as we age, that it would indicate some type of heart failure developing. Is this true, and if so, how much difference (i.e., 60 or 70 points?) would warrant seeing a cardiologist?
Answer (by Dr Sarah Brewer): The difference between systolic and diastolic measurements is known as the pulse pressure. There a good article on this in Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulse_pressure
Normal pulse pressure (eg for someone with a BP of 120/80 mmHg) is around 40. Essentially, a high pulse pressure (persistently greater than 100mHg) can be a sign of arteriosclerosis (stiffened arteries), aortic regurgitation (a leaky aortic valve), an overactive thyroid or some rare vascular malformations. Of these, the most likely in someone who’s pulse pressure increases with age is a combination of arteriosclerosis and aortic regurgitation which can contribute to heart failure. A high resting pulse pressure is thought to accelerate blood vessel damage in target organs such as eyes, heart, kidney, brain, and medication is usually used ot help control it. Usually someone with a high pulse pressure will already have a BP high enough to treat hypertension as a pulse pressure of 100mmHg means having a BP of at least 180/80 and isolated systolic hypertension is treatable. If you are testing your own BP and either figure is consistently greater tha 140/90 – see your GP.
High Blood Pressure Causes 62% of all Strokes and 49% of all Heart Attacks... Check your BP on the blood pressure chart. If the chart shows you are in the prehypertension or hypertension ranges, do something about it, even if it is just having a chat with your doctor. The blood pressure chart is for all adults regardless of age, as whilst your age rises, the thresholds for prehypertension and hypertension don't! (there is no blood pressure chart by age!) No matter what your age - if your BP is above 140/90 you should set about lowering it. You can record and monitor your readings on our printable blood pressure log.