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Monday, April 15, 2013

What is Diastolic Blood Pressure ?

[Explanation by]
It i
s the 'pressure' in your blood vessels between heartbeats (when your heart is resting). This is represented by the bottom number, in a blood pressure reading. It will be considered 'low', when the BP reading is below 60. Likewise, it will be considered 'high' if the BP reading is higher than 90. Thus, in order to maintain a good level, it is suggested that one should change their l
ifestyle, such as losing weight and regular exercise.

What is blood pressure then ? It is actually the amount of 'force' that blood exerts on the walls of our blood vessels, as it passes through them. There are two types of pressure measured, namely :

1) pressure, while the heart is beating (known as systolic blood pressure);

2)  pressure, while it is relaxed (known as diastolic blood pressure).

When measuring diastolic blood pressure, a cuff of fabric is inflated and then wrapped around the arm. There are several types of measuring equipment used by practitioners out there. The conventional type is called a sphygmomanometer (manual type ... attached with a rubber pump, by squeezing). However, many have chosen to use the digital type for better convenience nowadays.
There will be two numbers (diastolic & systolic) that will be shown on your measuring gauge. A reading of 120/80 is considered as normal blood pressure. The number on top is the systolic pressure. It measures the pressure inside your blood vessels, when your heart beats. The number on the bottom is your diastolic blood pressure. It measures the pressure, when your heart is between beats.
Diastolic blood pressure changes frequently throughout the day. Things that can make diastolic blood pressure change within a few minutes include :
  1. Posture
  2. Level of exercise
  3. Amount of tension
  4. Nicotine useHowever, it is best to take several BP readings,
    in order to derive a person's average blood pressure.
Not everyone is able to achieve a 'normal BP'. Several considerations have to be noted, namely; a person's individual overall health, lifestyle, diet, and family history. The later factors will attribute either; a higher, or lower blood pressure than what's considered normal.
Importance of Diastolic Blood Pressure*
When blood is pumped from your heart into your blood vessels, sufficient diastolic blood pressure is created to send it to all other parts of your body. As blood vessels travel away from the heart, they branch off and gradually get smaller, just like tree branches. One branch may go to the brain, while another may go to your kidneys. Diastolic blood pressure keeps the blood flowing through all these branches so your body's cells get the oxygen and nutrients they need, and waste matters can be removed.

Low Diastolic Blood Pressure

If the diastolic pressure is too low (low blood pressure), the blood is not able to bring oxygen and nutrients to all the body's cells, and remove waste matters. This can cause the cells to die. The diastolic blood pressure is considered low when the blood pressure reading is below 60.

High Diastolic Blood Pressure

If the diastolic blood pressure is too high, a person is said to have high blood pressure (hypertension). Usually higher than 90.

In people with high blood pressure, the small blood vessels in the vital organs are most affected over time. These blood vessels become scarred, hardened, and less elastic, which means that they are more likely to get blocked, or ruptured (leading to organ damage, or even organ failure). This may happen as one gets older. High blood pressure can speed up this process, thus maintaining a normal blood pressure is important (to reduce the above mentioned risks).

When the diastolic blood pressure becomes severe, emergency hospitalization and lowering of blood pressure are required. This is to prevent brain haemorrhage, or stroke.
Lowering Diastolic Blood Pressure
For those with high diastolic blood pressure, lifestyle changes are the first component of treatment. Such changes will help to lower diastolic blood pressure. Incidentally, they also help to improve a person's quality of life. Some of such changes known, to lower blood pressure include:

  • Weight loss;
  • Regular exercise;
  • Consume more fruits and vegetables & reducing fats and cholesterol;
  • Reduce salt intake in the diet; &
  • Cut down alcohol intake.

If these lifestyle modifications do not lower diastolic blood pressure, then blood pressure medication will be recommended.

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