Let’s start simple, what is blood pressure, and why does it matter?
Your body is made up of lots and lots of cells which work together to keep you alive. All of these cells have different functions, but they all have the basic requirement of bringing in fuel and getting rid of waste.
Your body does this using blood, flowing through blood vessels. Blood flows through the lungs, where it picks up oxygen and drops off carbon dioxide. It flows to the gut where it picks up fuel. It flows through the kidneys where it drops off the waste, and then it continues around the body picking up and dropping off materials as needed.
Sound pretty important? Well, yes, it is.
Blood moves around your body thanks to the heart, which is a pump. It is this pumping action that moves blood around your body providing oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. Measuring your blood pressure indicates how efficiently your body is pumping blood, and therefore, distributing nutrients and removing waste, keeping you alive.
How is blood pressure measured?
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers, corresponding to the highest and lowest pressure in your blood vessels. As the heart beats, the pressure will increase as the heart squeezes blood out into the blood vessels. This is the higher number called the “systolic”. The heart then relaxes in preparation for another squeeze, and the pressure will drop to the lower number, the “diastolic”. The ideal blood pressure is around 110/70 (but don’t be alarmed if yours is a little higher). Blood pressure in the 150/90 + range is cause for concern.
What are the risks of high blood pressure?
In the short term high blood pressure isn’t a problem. If you are being chased by a bear it is natural for your blood pressure to rise, it helps you run away. If you are an athlete, your heart is very efficient and your blood pressure may be lower than normal. Higher blood pressure puts more stress on the vessels carrying blood around your body, and on the organs themselves. Over time this causes damage.
In the long term, uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to serious health problems including kidney disease, heart failure, and stroke. These long term problems associated with high blood pressure can be mitigated by maintaining normal blood pressure. This can be accomplished medically with drugs, or through lifestyle changes including a healthy diet and exercise.
Why does Virginia Family Dentistry care about my blood pressure?
As dentists, we fix teeth; we do not treat high blood pressure. However, we do our best to recognize systemic disease and refer you to a physician for management if necessary. We measure your blood pressure every time you come see us as an added check on your health. It doesn’t take long, is noninvasive, and it provides us with great information as to your risk for cardiovascular disease.
I recommend that you see a dentist for a cleaning and a thorough exam twice a year. It is always better to catch things before they become a problem, whether it be for cavities , gum disease, or high blood pressure.
As dentists, we fix teeth, but we pay attention to rest of you too!
Powhatan, VA 23139
Dental: (804) 598-3000