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Understanding Blood Pressure

We’ve all heard of it. Maybe we have it ourselves or we know someone who has it. Or maybe you or someone you know is currently battling it; fighting each day to keep it under control: High blood pressure. But how well do you understand it? When your nurse or doctor reads you your blood pressure, do you know what it means? Or are you like the average person who knows that the lower the number is the better?

Let’s go over some of the basics. When a nurse or doctor tells you your blood pressure rating, they may say something along the lines of “blood pressure 110/70 (110 over 70),” to let you know where your blood pressure lies.  Blood pressure is not measured in pounds, but in millimeters of mercury (mm HG). The first number, which is generally the higher number, is your systolic pressure. It measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The second number, which is generally the lower number, is your diastolic pressure. It measures the pressure in the arteries in between heartbeats. Typically more attention is given to the top number (the systolic blood pressure) as a major risk factor for heart disease for people over 50 years old.
According to the American Heart Association, a healthy blood pressure reading is less than 120/80. Pre-hypertension, or slightly elevated blood pressure, is between that and 139/89. Once you creep over those numbers, you are officially at high blood pressure.  Believe it or not, low blood pressure can be a cause for concern as well. While most doctors only consider low blood pressure dangerous when symptoms are displayed, it can also have an underlying cause. Symptoms of low blood pressure include:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Dehydration and unusual thirst
  • Lack of concentration
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Cold, clammy, pale skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

Regular visits to your doctor or cardiologist is the best way to maintain your blood pressure. We can recommend the best treatment or course of action if your blood pressure is too high or too low.

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Varicose Veins

So what are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are veins that have become twisted and enlarged near the surface of the skin. Although they can occur anywhere within the body’s veins, they most commonly occur in the veins in the legs and ankles. Veins have what are known as leaflet valves, or one way valves. The purpose of these valves is to prevent blood from flowing backwards (known as retrograde flow or reflux). If these leaflet valves fail, then the blood flows backwards, causing the veins to build pressure and swell. The legs are most affected because the leg muscles pump the veins to return blood to the heart against the effect of gravity. Varicose veins can run in families, but being overweight, being pregnant or having a job where you must stand for
long periods of time can lead to varicose veins. Varicose veins normally aren’t serious, but they can lead to other things and can be painful.

Mild symptoms include:

  • Heaviness, burning, aching, tiredness, or pain in your legs – possibly worsening over long periods of standing
  • Swelling in your feet and ankles.
  • Itching over the vein.

More serious symptoms include:

  • Leg swelling.
  • Swelling and calf pain after you sit or stand for long periods of time.

Skin changes, such as:

  • Color changes.
  • Dry, thinned skin.
  • Inflammation.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, We can examine your veins and let you know if there are any reasons for concern.

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