Blood Pressure Readings


Blood pressure readings consist of a diastolic and a systolic reading. High blood pressure or hypertension can increase one's risk for not only developing age related macular degeneration, but also the more advanced form of wet macular degeneration.

Blood Pressure Numbers

Your blood pressure numbers may be the most important numbers you need to know. At your doctor's visit be sure to ask for your blood pressure numbers and write them down.

reduce risk of macular degeneration

Systolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. This is the top number.

Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. This is your bottom number.

High blood pressure is a serious condition that by itself does not have symptoms. People can have high blood pressure for years and not know it. However, it may be your eye doctor who first discovers that you have hypertension. That's because an eye exam is the only non-invasive exam that allows a physician to actually view your blood vessels. The condition of the blood vessels in your eyes, reflects the condition of the blood vessels in the rest of your body.

Meanwhile, without a person even knowing it, this condition is causing damage to not only the blood vessels, but also to the heart, kidneys and yes, the eyes.

Knowing your blood pressure numbers is extremely important. Always ask the doctor or nurse what your blood pressure readings are, write them down, and if you need a reminder ask what your numbers mean.

Normal is below: 120/80

Prehypertension is: 120-139/80-89

Stage 1 is: 140-159/90-99

Stage 2 is: 160 & above/100 & above

Blood pressure numbers are written with the systolic number above with the diastolic listed below, such as 120/80 mmHg. (The mmHg is millimeters of mercury—the units used to measure blood pressure.)

Causes of High Blood Pressure

There are certain factors that contribute to the development of high blood pressure. Factors such as being overweight, not exercising, eating unhealthy foods, drinking alcohol, kidney disease, medication side effects or just plain genetics can be to blame.

Knowing and understanding your blood pressure readings may be the most important health numbers for you to know.

Having high blood pressure increases your risk of developing macular degeneration . Even those with controlled high blood pressure have double the risk of wet macular degeneration and those with uncontrolled hypertension are three times more likely to develop wet AMD.

(Ophthalmology 2003;110: 636-643) There are certain factors that contribute to the development of high blood pressure. The causes of high blood pressure are:

1) Obesity - As a persons body weight increases so does their blood pressure

2) Alcohol use - drinking more than one to two drinks of alcohol per day tends to raise blood pressure in those who are sensitive to alcohol

3) Lack of exercise - a lack of physical activity contributes to the development of obesity and high blood pressure.

4) Sensitivity to salt - those who are sensitive to sodium or salt will see their blood pressure goe up if they use salt. Reducing sodium intake tends to lower their blood pressure. Americans consume 10-15 times more sodium than they need. Fast foods and processed foods contain particularly high amounts of sodium.

5) Kidney Diseases can cause secondary hypertension. Meaning that the high blood pressure is caused by another condition.

6) Medications - birth control pills, amphetamines (stimulants), diet pills, and some pills used for cold and allergy symptoms, tend to raise blood pressure.

7) Adrenal Gland dysfunction or tumors. There are several disorders of the adrenal glands that can cause high blood pressure. The adrenal glands are two small organs that sit above the kidneys and produce several important hormones.

Talking Blood Pressure Monitor

Monitoring one's blood pressure at home is important to determine if your blood pressure medication is working or if you are in normal range.

Utilize a monitor that will tell you your numbers and/or has large easy to read numbers.  This one will keep a record of your last 120 measurements along with the date and time. 

The extra-large display will report your pulse rate, and your systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

HealthSmart Premium Talking Automatic Digital Blood Pressure Monitor, Bilingual

How to Lower Blood Pressure

Do you want to know how to lower blood pressure to improve your health, including your eye health?  First, talk to your doctor about high blood pressure medication and what lifestyle changes you need to make to lower your numbers.

Never stop taking your blood pressure medication without your physician's supervision - doing so can put you at an increased risk of stroke.

As a registered nurse, I have seen many patients who have experienced strokes because they ran out of or stopped taking their blood pressure medication while still having high blood pressure.

There are many things you can do to lower your blood pressure if it is lifestyle related. They are:

1. Loose Weight

2. Exercise Regularly

3. Quit Smoking

4. Limit eating fast foods and processed foods

5. Take medications

6. Reduce Salt and Sodium Intake

Never reduce or take yourself off your blood pressure medication without the supervision of your physician. Doing so can increase your risk for a stroke.

You must be serious about making lifestyle changes and be committed to exercise, diet and lifestyle changes to help get your numbers healthy.



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