Once doctors take blood pressure from a person they calculate the force that blood exerts on the artery walls as it passes through them.
It can do significant damage to the blood vessels if blood pressure is too high for too long.ll
This damage can lead to a variety of complications, some of which may be life-threatening. These include heart failure, loss of vision, stroke, kidney disease and other health issues.
There are ways of managing high blood pressure, or hypertension. High blood pressure often does not cause symptoms, but regular screening can help a person know if they need to take preventive action.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 75 million people in the United States, or 29 per cent of the population, have high blood pressure.
We look at the causes of high blood pressure in this post, and how to treat it. They also describe the measures of blood pressure which health authorities regard as safe and too high.
What is high blood pressure?
The heart is a muscle pumping blood throughout the body. The blood is supplying oxygen to vital organs of the body as it flows.
A imbalance in the body also makes it more difficult for the heart to pump blood. For example, this may happen when an artery gets too small.
Persistent high blood pressure may put a strain on artery walls. It can cause a number of health problems, some of which could be life-threatening.
High blood pressure chart
According to the American Heart Association (AHA) the map below indicates tests for normal and elevated blood pressure.
Doctors calculate the blood level of mercury in millimeters (mm Hg).
As the heart contracts, systolic pressure tests the pressure in the arteries, which is the highest number on reading blood pressure. Diastolic, which is the smaller amount, is the blood pressure when the heart rests between beats.
|Systolic (mm Hg)||Diastolic (mm Hg)|
|Normal||Below 120||Below 80|
|Elevated (hypertension)||120–129||Below 80|
|Stage 1 hypertension||130–139||80–90|
|Stage 2 hypertension||140 or above||90 or above|
|Hypertensive crisis||Over 180||Over 120|
What is a normal blood pressure? Find out here.
Signs and symptoms
Many people with high blood pressure will have no symptoms, which is why people often call hypertension the “silent killer.”
But, if blood pressure hits around 180/120 mm Hg, it turns into a hypertensive situation, which is a medical emergency.
One individual may have at this stage:
- a headache
- blurred or double vision
- heart palpitations
Anybody who experiences these symptoms should see their doctor immediately.
Symptoms in women
Hormonal causes suggest males and females may be at different risk of high blood pressure.
Factors that can increase women’s risk of high blood pressure include:
- the use of birth control pills
High blood pressure can be a sign of preeclampsia during pregnancy, a potentially dangerous condition which can affect the woman and her unborn child.
Symptoms of preeclampsia include:
- vision changes
- abdominal pain
- swelling due to edema
All women should follow the screening guidelines and attend all health inspections, especially during pregnancy.
Symptoms in teens
Teenagers may develop high blood pressure due to obesity or a medical condition underlying it.
Possible medical factors include:
- aspects of metabolic syndrome, such as type 2 diabetes
- kidney disease
- endocrine disease, which affects the hormones
- vascular disease, which affects the blood vessels
- a neurological condition
These conditions may have symptoms of their own.
The symptoms of high blood pressure, if they occur, will be the same as for other groups.
Symptoms in children
Children can get affected by high blood pressure. It raises the risk of obesity and diabetes, but it can also be a sign of:
- a tumor
- heart problems
- kidney problems
- thyroid problems
- a genetic condition, such as Cushing’s syndrome
As with adults, high blood pressure often does not cause symptoms in children.
However, if symptoms do occur, they may include:
- a headache
- blurred vision
They may also have signs of another condition.
Symptoms in babies
Regardless of an underlying health disorder, such as kidney or heart disease, newborns and very young babies can also have high blood pressure.
Symptoms may include:
- a failure to thrive
- respiratory distress
Other symptoms will depend on the condition that is causing the high blood pressure.
High blood pressure can occur when certain changes happen in the body or if a person is born with specific genetic features that cause a health condition.
It can affect people with:
- type 2 diabetes
- kidney disease
- obstructive sleep apnea
- underactive or overactive thyroid
- congenital conditions, such as Cushing’s syndrome, acromegaly, or pheochromocytoma
Occasionally, there is no apparent cause. For this case the main hypertension is treated by a doctor.
Further raising the risk is eating a high fat diet, carrying extra weight, drinking plenty of alcohol, smoking tobacco and using certain medicines.
How to lower blood pressure
Treatment will depend on several factors, including:
- how high the blood pressure is
- the risk of cardiovascular disease or a stroke
As blood pressure increases the doctor may prescribe various treatments. We may recommend making lifestyle changes and controlling the blood pressure for slightly elevated blood pressure.
They’ll prescribe medicine if blood pressure is high. The options can vary over time, depending on how serious the hypertension is and if complications, such as kidney disease, occur. Many people can need several different drugs combined.
Conventional drugs for treating high blood pressure include:
1) Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors
Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors block the action of certain hormones, such as angiotensin II, that regulate blood pressure. Angiotensin II causes constriction of the arteries and raises blood flow, leading to elevated blood pressure.
ACE inhibitors can reduce the supply of blood to the kidneys, thereby making them less effective. As a result, people who take ACE inhibitors need to have daily blood tests.
If people use ACE inhibitors they do not:
- are pregnant
- have a condition that affects the blood supply to the kidneys
ACE inhibitors may cause the following side effects, which usually resolve after a few days:
- a persistent dry cough
If the side effects are chronic or too painful to handle, then a doctor can prescribe an antagonist of the angiotensin II receptor.
These alternative medications also cause less side effects, which can include dizziness, headaches and elevated levels of potassium in the blood.
2) Calcium channel blockers
Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) tend to lower levels of calcium in the blood vessels. It would relax the vascular smooth muscle, causing less vigorous contraction of the heart, widening of the arteries and lowering of blood pressure.
CCBs can not always be sufficient for people with a history of heart disease, hepatic disease, or circulation problems. A physician can advise on taking CCBs and what form of CCB is safe to use.
There may be the following side effects but they typically resolve within a few days:
- redness of the skin, generally on the cheeks or neck
- swollen ankles and feet
- skin rash
- swollen abdomen, in rare cases
3) Thiazide diuretics
Thiazide diuretics help remove sodium and water from the kidneys. It lessens the intensity and pressure of the blood.
The following side effects can occur, and some of them may persist:
- low blood potassium, which can affect heart and kidney function
- impaired glucose tolerance
- erectile dysfunction
Those taking diuretics with thiazide will have daily blood and urine tests to monitor blood sugar and potassium levels.
Beta-blockers were once common for the treatment of hypertension, but doctors only continue to prescribe them now that other therapies have failed.
Beta-blockers slow down the heart rate and increase the pulse power, causing blood pressure to decrease.
There may be side effects
- cold hands and feet
- slow heartbeat
- Less common side effects are:
- disturbed sleep
- erectile dysfunction
Beta-blockers are also the prescribed treatment, known as a hypertensive crisis, for a person with extremely high blood pressure.
5) Renin inhibitors
Aliskiren (Tekturna, Rasilez) decreases renin activity, which is an enzyme released by the kidneys.
Renin helps produce a hormone that narrows the channels of the blood and increases blood pressure. Reducing this hormone induces narrowing of the blood vessels, and dropping blood pressure.
This medication is fairly new, and its optimum use and dosage is still determined by health care professionals.
Potential side effects include:
- flu-like symptoms
- a cough
It is essential to read the packaging of any medication to check for interactions with other drugs.
Diet therapy can be an efficient way to help avoid and treat high blood pressure.
A stable, balanced diet contains plenty of fruits and vegetables, vitamin and omega-oils and good quality, unrefined carbohydrates, such as whole grains. Those who add animal products into their diet should cut out all the fat and avoid processed meats.
Lowering salt intake
Experts recommend reducing salt consumption and increasing the intake of potassium to control high blood pressure or avoid it. Limiting salt consumption to less than 5–6 grams per day in humans with hypertension may help improve cardiovascular health and reduce systolic blood pressure by 5.6 mm Hg.
Plant sources of fats, such as avocados, almonds, olive oil, and omega oils can be safe in moderation. People can restrict their consumption of saturated fats and trans fats, which are abundant in foods produced and processed from animals.
The DASH diet
DASH diet is recommended by health professionals for people with high blood pressure. The DASH diet focuses on an eating plan emphasizing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and low-fat dairy products.
|Food groups||Number of weekly servings for those eating 1,600–3,100 calories a day||Number of weekly servings for those on a 2,000-calorie diet|
|Grains and grain products||6–12||7–8|
|Mostly low-fat or non-fat dairy foods||2–4||2–3|
|Lean meat, fish, or poultry||1.5–2.5||2|
|Nuts, seeds, and legumes||3–6||4–5|
|Fats and candy||2–4||Limited|
Those who drink more than moderate levels of alcohol on a daily basis will almost certainly experience high blood pressure.
There have been contradictory findings from studies of the relationship between caffeine and blood pressure. A study released in 2017 found that for people with high blood pressure a moderate intake of coffee seems healthy.
The AHA recommend a range of lifestyle adjustments that can help reduce blood pressure, such as:
- managing stress
- quitting smoking
- eating healthfully
- getting exercise
- following any treatment plan the doctor prescribes
Talk with a health care provider regarding any proposed lifestyle changes before adopting them.
The AHA states that most healthy people can do physical activity at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity a week. It could be 30 minutes on 5 days of the week — or three lots of 10 minutes a day —
This amount of exercise is also ideal for those with high blood pressure.
However, a person who hasn’t been exercising for a while or who has a new condition should speak to their doctor before beginning a new physical activity plan to ensure that the decisions they make are acceptable to them.
Studies have revealed that losing as little as 5–10 pounds in weight can help reduce blood pressure.
Weight loss can also make blood pressure drugs more effective.
Ways to reach a healthy weight and sustain it include:
- getting regular exercise
- following a diet that emphasizes plant-based foods and limits the intake of fat and added sugars
Increasing sleep alone is unlikely to treat hypertension but too little sleep and poor quality of sleep will make it worse.
A 2015 review of data from a Korean national health survey showed that hypertension was more common for people who had less than 5 hours of sleep a night.
You will find more information in this article on how to control high blood pressure.
The following may help lower blood pressure, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH):
- meditation, yoga, qi gong, and tai chi
- biofeedback and transcendental meditation
- supplements such as garlic, flaxseed, green or black tea, probiotics, cocoa, and roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
The NCCIH add, however, that there is not yet enough evidence to confirm that these can make a difference.
They also warn that:
Some supplements can have adverse effects. They may raise blood pressure or interact with medications.
Meditation and exercise therapies are usually safe, but some poses may not be suitable for people with high blood pressure.
Anyone who is considering an alternative therapy should speak to their doctor first.
Diastolic and systolic pressure
There are two parts to a blood pressure measurement:
Systolic pressure: This is the blood pressure when the heart contracts.
Diastolic pressure: This is the blood pressure between heartbeats.
When blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg, the systolic pressure is 120 mm Hg and the diastolic pressure is 80 mm Hg, respectively.
Blood pressure control systems are different. A doctor will also use a stethoscope hand-held sphygmomanometer. It has a pressure cuff which they place around the arm of the individual.
Mobile devices are ideal for home use, and are available in pharmacies and for online purchase.
When a person is reading blood pressure, they’ll have one of the following:
Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg.
Elevated: 120–129/80 mm Hg. At this stage, a doctor will advise the individual to make lifestyle changes to return their blood pressure to the normal range.
Stage 1 hypertension: 130–139/80–89 mm Hg.
Stage 2 hypertension: Over 140/90 mm Hg.
Hypertensive crisis: 180/120 mm Hg or above.
A individual suffering from a hypertensive crisis needs urgent medical treatment.
Typically a person would require more than one reading to validate a diagnosis, as various factors will influence the outcome.
Can fluctuate blood pressure:
- according to the time of day
- when a person feels anxiety or stress
- after eating
Furthermore, if a reading indicates extremely high blood pressure or if there are signs of organ failure or other symptoms a doctor should take prompt action.
Other tests can help in confirming a diagnosis.
Urinary and blood tests: These will search for underlying conditions such as urinary infection or damage to the kidneys.
Exercise stress test: A health care professional can assess the blood pressure of a person before, during and after a stationary bicycle or treadmill is used. The findings can provide valuable insights into heart safety.
Electrocardiogram (ECG): An ECG tests electrical activity in the heart. For a person with hypertension and high cholesterol levels, a doctor may order an ECG as a baseline for comparing future results.
Changes in future results might show that coronary artery disease is developing or that the heart wall is thickening.
Holter monitoring: For 24 hours, the individual carries an ECG portable device that connects to their chest through electrodes. This device can provide an overview of blood pressure throughout the day and show how it changes as the level of activity varies.
Echocardiogram: Ultrasound waves show the heart in motion. The doctor will be able to detect problems, such as thickening of the heart wall, defective heart valves, blood clots, and excessive fluid around the heart.
Dangers and side effects of hypertension
A healthy blood pressure is essential for maintaining bodily functions.
High blood pressure can have a severe impact on:
The cardiovascular system: High blood pressure can cause the arteries to harden, increasing the risk of a blockage.
The heart: A blockage can reduce blood flow to the heart, increasing the risk of angina, heart failure, or a heart attack.
The brain: A blockage in the arteries can lower or prevent blood flow to the brain, leading to a stroke.
The kidneys: High blood pressure can result in kidney damage and chronic kidney disease.
All of these effects can be life threatening.
Can you take decongestants?
When people have a stuffy or runny nose, decongestants are a good over – the-counter treatment, but certain decongestants can increase blood pressure.
Ingredients that can have this effect include:
An individual should clarify that they have high blood pressure to their pharmacist, and ask them to suggest an suitable alternative.
Is high blood pressure genetic?
The key risk factors for high blood pressure are generally environmentally friendly, although genetic factors that play a role. Hypertension can run in families, and it seems that people with certain ethnic and racial groups are at higher risk.
However, individuals within a family often share similar habits, such as dietary preferences, according to the CDC.
If a person has genetic factors that increase their vulnerability to high blood pressure, and they also make lifestyle choices that increase this risk, they would likely be more likely to develop hypertension.
How much sodium per day?
The AHA suggests that people restrict their salt consumption to no more than 2.300 milligrams (mg) a day and reduce it to 1.500 mg preferably. People in the U.S. actually eat an average of more than 3,400 mg of sodium per day.
For most people, for example, the natural sodium content in vegetables is appropriate for the needs of their bodies. Eating fewer refined and premade products and avoiding the salt shaker are effective ways to reduce salt consumption.
Excessive pressure on the artery walls can lead to damage to the blood vessels, which is a type to cardiovascular disease, without medication or taking steps to control blood pressure. It can damage other vital organs, too.
Possible complications of high blood pressure include:
- heart attack and heart failure
- blood clots
- kidney disease
- thickened, narrow, or torn blood vessels in the eyes
- metabolic syndrome
- brain function and memory problems
The quest for early diagnosis and blood pressure control will help prevent many health problems.
The risk factors for high blood pressure include the following:
Age: The risk increases with age because the blood vessels become less flexible.
Family history and genetic factors: People who have close family members with hypertension are more likely to develop it.
Ethnic background: African Americans have a higher risk of developing hypertension than other groups in the United States.
Obesity and being overweight: People with overweight or obesity are more likely to develop high blood pressure.
Physical inactivity: A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk.
Smoking: When people smoke, the blood vessels narrow, and blood pressure rises. Smoking also reduces the blood’s oxygen content, so the heart pumps faster to compensate. This, too, increases blood pressure.
Alcohol intake: Drinking a lot of alcohol increases the risk of blood pressure and its complications, such as heart disease.
Diet: A diet that is high in unsaturated fat and salt increases the risk of high blood pressure.
High cholesterol: Over 50% of people with high blood pressure have high cholesterol. Consuming unhealthful fats can contribute to a buildup of cholesterol in the arteries.
Mental stress: Stress can have a severe impact on blood pressure, especially when it is chronic. It can occur as a result of both socioeconomic and psychosocial factors.
Stress: Persistent stress can lead to high blood pressure, and it may increase the risk of unhealthful choices, such as smoking.
Diabetes: High blood pressure often occurs alongside type 1 diabetes. Following a treatment plan to manage diabetes can reduce the risk.
Pregnancy: High blood pressure is more likely during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. Hypertension is also a symptom of preeclampsia, a potentially severe placental disorder.
Sleep apnea: People with sleep apnea momentarily stop breathing while they sleep. Experts say there are links with hypertension.
When to see a doctor
Most individuals with high blood pressure have no signs. For this purpose, they must be screened regularly, particularly those with a higher risk.
This group includes:
- people with obesity or overweight
- African Americans
- those with a previous history of high blood pressure
- those with blood pressure that is at the high end of normal (from 130–139/ 85–89 mm Hg)
- people with certain health conditions
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommend annual screening for:
- adults aged 40 years or older
- those with an elevated risk of high blood pressure
- Persons with a higher risk include those who:
- have high to normal blood pressure (130 to 139/85 to 89 mm Hg)
- have overweight or obesity
- are African Americans
Adults aged 18–39 years who have normal blood pressure (less than 130/85 mm Hg) and who do not have any other risk factors should have further screening every 3–5 years.
When rescreening in the doctor’s office reveals that blood pressure has risen, the USPSTF recommends that the individual use a 24-hour outpatient blood pressure monitor to better assess their blood pressure. Doctor can diagnose hypertension if this appears to show elevated blood pressure.
Currently the USPSTF does not recommend regular screening for people aged 17 and under.
Types and normal ranges of kidney function tests
Kidney function tests are basic procedures that use blood or urine to diagnose kidney abnormalities. A variety of kidney function tests are available to assess various aspects of renal health.
A kidney function test can detect sluggish waste filtering. Another test may detect protein leakage from the kidneys.
In cases where a doctor suspects a kidney disease, routine testing can help all individuals.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, 1 in 3 adults in the US is at risk for kidney disease, and many early cases show no symptoms. It’s important to detect and treat this condition early to avoid permanent damage.
In this article, you’ll learn about kidney function tests and their results.
What is it?
Kidney function tests use blood or urine to assess many elements of kidney health.
Doctors frequently request multiple tests to provide a comprehensive picture of kidney health.
The kidneys are vital to the body’s wellbeing. Their major function is to filter waste from the blood and excrete it in the urine.
Kidney disease can hinder the kidneys from filtering waste effectively, causing hazardous symptoms.
Regular testing may help detect disorders like kidney disease early on, halting its disease.
Doctors may also arrange imaging or a biopsy to learn more about the kidney.
Continue reading to learn about kidney function testing.
Pee tests may demand a little sample or all of a person’s urine in 24 hours.
Urinalysis helps doctors uncover underlying disorders or decide which test to employ next. Urinalysis can discover unwanted particles in urine such as:
A positive test for one or more of these particles means:
The microalbuminuria or albumin-to-creatine ratio
Both tests require a little urine sample. Both aid in detecting albumin in urine.
Albumin is an important protein in the blood. Not doing your job properly if your kidneys excrete too much albumin.
30 mg/g or less urine albumin is normal. Any higher may indicate renal disease.
As a result, microalbuminuria can detect even minute levels of protein in the urine.
Even if other urine protein tests are negative, people at increased risk of renal disease may need a microalbuminuria test.
A creatine clearance test involves both blood and urine. It entails taking a 24-hour urine sample and a blood sample.
Creatine is a naturally occurring waste product in the body from muscular use.
Doctors compare creatine levels in urine to blood levels. This chart compares the amount of waste the kidneys filter out, which may indicate their general health.
An arm blood test requires a doctor or nurse to extract a little amount of blood from the patient. The person may need to fast or take the test early in the morning.
Serum creatine test
Serum creatine levels that are excessively high could indicate that the kidneys aren’t doing their job properly. As part of the creatine clearance test, doctors will also prescribe a serum creatine test.
Serum creatine levels exceeding 1.2 for women and 1.4 for men, according to the National Kidney Foundation, may be an early warning that the kidneys aren’t working properly. As renal disease advances, these figures may grow even higher.
This test can also be used to calculate a person’s glomerular filtration rate (GFR) to confirm a diagnosis or to order additional tests to double-check the results.
The GFR test adjusts the findings of a serum creatine test for a variety of parameters, including age, gender, and race. A GFR of 60 or higher is considered normal. A GFR of 60 or less is indicative of renal disease.
Blood urea nitrogen test
The blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test looks for urea nitrogen and other waste products in the blood.
When proteins in food break down, urea nitrogen is produced, and high amounts may indicate that the kidneys are not filtering these waste products adequately.
BUN levels typically range from 7 to 20 milligrammes per deciliter. Higher levels could indicate a kidney-related underlying condition.
However, numerous other factors, such as drugs or antibiotics, might impact BUN levels. A diet high in protein may also have an impact on levels.
To acquire a better picture of how successfully the kidney filters this waste, doctors would often compare these results to the results of a creatine test.
Imaging scans may aid in the detection of any physical abnormalities to the kidneys, such as injuries or kidney stones.
To take photos, ultrasound exams use innocuous sound waves. An ultrasound may be ordered by a doctor to check for changes in the shape or position of the kidneys. An ultrasound may also be requested to screen for tumours or obstructions, such as kidney stones.
A CT scan is a procedure that employs a sequence of X-ray images to build a 3D image of the kidneys. It could aid in the detection of any structural alterations or deformations in the kidney.
A dye injection is sometimes required for the scan, which might be problematic for people who have kidney disease.
Doctors may recommend a kidney biopsy in some instances. This is a procedure in which a tiny needle is inserted into the kidney to remove renal tissue. The tissue will be sent to a lab for testing by the doctor.
When doctors need to diagnose a specific disease and determine how well it might react to treatment, they may perform a biopsy. A biopsy may also be used to assess the progression of renal disease.
Multiple positive test findings indicate that there is a problem with the kidneys.
Each of these tests provides doctors with a more complete view of a person’s overall kidney health. The scans can also detect renal disease signs, allowing for the ordering of additional tests.
Doctors will strive to completely identify the condition and design a treatment strategy once they have determined that there is a problem with the kidneys.
Kidney failure can be caused by a variety of underlying diseases. In order to discover the best treatment for each instance, a comprehensive diagnosis is required.
Renal function tests are an important element in diagnosing and treating kidney problems. Even if there are no symptoms, some people may need to be tested on a regular basis.
People at increased risk for kidney problems should get frequent kidney function testing, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney DiseasesTrusted Source. Those with the following people are at a high risk:
Regular renal function testing can help detect kidney abnormalities early on, when the outlook is the best.
People can assist prevent the condition from progressing by sticking to a treatment plan. The best method to evaluate and manage any indicators of kidney damage or underlying issues is to work directly with a doctor.
Uses of vitamin B-12 level test: Normal ranges, and results
The amount of vitamin B-12 in the blood or urine is measured in a vitamin B-12 level test to determine the body’s overall vitamin B-12 reserves.
Vitamin B-12 is required for a variety of body functions, including neuron function, DNA and red blood cell formation.
Treatment is required if a person’s vitamin B-12 levels fall outside of the usual range. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause neurological symptoms as well as fatigue, constipation, and weight loss. B-12 levels that are too high could indicate liver disease, diabetes, or another condition.
Continue reading to learn more about B-12 testing and what the results indicate.
Purpose of a vitamin B-12 level test
The vitamin B-12 level test determines the amount of vitamin B-12 in your body. Doctors can use the data to see if low vitamin B-12 levels are causing symptoms.
If a person exhibits any of the following symptoms, a doctor may recommend a vitamin B-12 level test:
Vitamin B-12 insufficiency
Vitamin B-12 deficiency is thought to affect up to 15% of people in the United States, according to research. The following are signs and symptoms of a deficiency:
- fast heartbeat
- numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
- poor memory
- a sore mouth or tongue
- difficulty maintaining balance
Vitamin B-12 deficiency in infants can cause them to underachieve. They may have mobility issues in addition to developmental delays.
A vitamin B-12 level test may be required for people who have signs of low iron. Pernicious anaemia is caused by a lack of vitamin B-12 absorption, resulting in poor red blood cell causes.
It usually affects the elderly or people who are deficient in intrinsic factor. Intrinsic factor is a gastric material that binds to vitamin B-12 and allows it to be absorbed by the body.
The following are signs and symptoms of pernicious anaemia:
- pale skin
- weight loss
- loss of appetite
High levels of folate in the blood
They can also make you more susceptible to anaemia.
Symptoms of other illnesses
Vitamin B-12 levels that are unusually high can be a symptom of liver disease, diabetes, or certain types of leukaemia. The findings of a vitamin B-12 test may be used by a doctor to help them make a diagnosis.
Vitamin B-12 deficiency is more common in some people than in others, especially those with low stomach acid or other digestive problems. Stomach acid helps the body absorb vitamin B-12 more effectively by separating it from meals.
Low vitamin B-12 levels are more common in the following groups of people than in others:
- people with conditions that reduce vitamin B-12 absorption, including celiac disease and Crohn’s disease
- people who have had gastric bypass surgery
- those who are breast-feeding
- people who are taking medicines such as chloramphenicol, proton pump inhibitors, or H2 blockers
- older adults
- vegans and vegetarians
- people with diabetes
How does the B-12 vitamin level test work?
Vitamin B-12 status is normally determined by a blood test, but home urine tests are now available. Vitamin B-12 levels can be checked as part of a routine blood test by a doctor.
Although fasting is not required before a B-12 test, it may be necessary if the doctor is utilising the test to check at other blood components.
It is important that patients inform their doctors about any medications or supplements they are taking, as some may have an impact on the outcome.
Acknowledging the results
The following are possible results:
- Low. Vitamin B-12 levels below 200 pg/mL are considered low. This indicates that you may have a vitamin B-12 deficiency, pernicious anaemia, or an overactive thyroid. Neurological symptoms are common in people who have low vitamin B-12 levels.
- High. Anything over 900 pg/mL is considered excessively high vitamin B-12 status. This result could indicate problems with the liver or kidneys, diabetes, or certain types of leukaemia.
Because the ranges of results differ from one laboratory to the next, it’s important to talk to a doctor about the results and what they signify.
To rule out vitamin B-12 deficiency, the doctor may measure levels of methylmalonic acid (MMA) and other chemicals. These lab results aid in the early detection of vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Vitamin B-12 deficiency treatment
Vitamin B-12 injections are frequently required by people who have low amounts of the vitamin. These shots are more successful at boosting vitamin B-12 levels than supplements, especially when people have medical issues that make supplements difficult to absorb.
High doses of vitamin B-12 supplements may help some people improve their B-12 status. Supplements are sold in the form of capsules or liquids in pharmacies, supermarkets, health food stores. It may also be beneficial to consume extra vitamin B-12-rich foods.
Treatment for high vitamin B-12 levels
There is no upper limit on vitamin B-12 consumption because high amounts do not cause problems. Having naturally high levels of vitamin B-12 in the body, on the other hand, could be cause for alarm, since it could indicate a serious underlying condition. Doctors will focus on treating the underlying medical condition rather than the vitamin B-12 levels.
Vitamin B-12 foods.
Although low vitamin B-12 levels are frequently caused by absorption problems and other medical conditions, some people may be deficient because they do not acquire enough vitamin B-12 through their food. This is especially true for vegans and vegetarians who have been vegetarian for a long time.
Vitamin B-12-rich foods include:
- fortified plant-based dairy alternatives
- fortified breakfast cereals
- fortified nutritional yeast
- fish and seafood
- dairy products
Vitamin supplements can help vegans and strict vegetarians make up for dietary deficiencies. Older persons should seek to achieve their vitamin B-12 needs through fortified meals and vitamin supplements, as supplements are simpler for their bodies to absorb than naturally occurring vitamin B-12.
Vitamin B-12 dietary recommendations
Vitamin B-12 is required in 2.4 micrograms (mcg) per day for adults and adolescents over the age of 14. During pregnancy, this rises to 2.6 mcg, and breast-feeding raises it to 2.8 mcg.
Vitamin B-12 is an essential nutrient that is necessary for good health. The status of a person’s vitamin B-12 is determined by a vitamin B-12 level test. This test may be recommended by a doctor to people who have symptoms of a deficiency or who are at risk of having low vitamin B-12 levels in their bodies.
Vitamin B-12 deficiency can be avoided by eating a well-balanced diet that includes many sources of the vitamin on a daily basis, or by taking supplements. If they have trouble absorbing vitamin B-12 from food, oral supplements or injections can help them avoid symptoms and consequences.
Iron deficiency anemia and aging: What to know
Due to a lack of iron, iron deficiency anemia is a condition in which the body does not produce enough healthy red blood cells. Nutritional deficits, blood loss, the use of certain drugs, and impaired absorption are all possible causes in older people.
Iron is used by the body to make red blood cells (RBCs), which transport oxygen throughout the body. A person may not be able to manufacture enough healthy RBCs to meet the body’s needs if they do not have enough iron. As a result, iron deficiency anemia can be caused as a result, causing symptoms such as weariness, weakness, and shortness of breath.
A person’s food is usually the source of iron. Iron deficiency anemia is caused by a nutritional deficiency or the body’s inability to utilise iron properly. Due to various contributory factors that might influence how the body receives or uses dietary iron, this condition is frequent among older persons.
The prevalence of iron deficiency anemia in older people is discussed in this article, as is how to treat and manage the condition.
When to consult a doctor
Anyone over the age of 50 who is having symptoms that could indicate iron deficiency anemia, such as fatigue and shortness of breath, should seek medical advice.
Individuals who have underlying disorders that can limit iron absorption should talk to their doctor about how to lower their risk of iron insufficiency.
According to other studies, anemia is most common in older people, affecting roughly 17% of the population over the age of 65. Iron deficiency anemia, in particular, is thought to account for around one-third of anemia cases in older persons, according to research.
Despite the fact that some cases of iron deficiency anemia are mild, anemia in older persons can lead to a variety of negative consequences, including extended hospital admissions and even death. As a result, even minor cases of anemia will be diagnosed and treated by doctors.
Iron deficiency anemia can be caused by a variety of underlying reasons, with more than one contributing to a person’s diagnosis. These can include the following:
If the body does not get enough iron to replenish healthy RBCs, low dietary iron intake may cause symptoms. Anemia may be more common in people who follow certain diets, such as vegans, or who do not consciously consume enough iron-rich foods.
Other vitamin deficiencies
Even with a high-iron diet, a person who is deficient in other vitamins is at risk of developing iron deficiency anemia. B vitamin deficiencies, such as vitamin B12 or vitamin B9, also known as folic acid or folate, are also common and can affect iron absorption.
Even a high iron intake may not be enough to balance iron levels if the body cannot use iron efficiently, such as owing to a gastrointestinal condition. As a result of health problems that affect iron absorption, iron deficiency anemia can cause as a side effect.
The hormone erythropoietin (EPO) is produced by the kidneys. EPO aids in the formation and repair of red blood cells. Iron deficiency anemia can be caused by conditions that alter EPO levels. Kidney diseases and hormone-related disorders are examples of these problems.
Anemia can develop if a person loses enough healthy RBCs as a result of bleeding. As the skin ages and thins, external bleeding is more frequent, making cuts and scratches more likely. It’s also possible that these wounds and scrapes will take longer to heal.
Internal bleeding, such as ulcers or stomach or intestine problems, can lower the quantity of healthy RBCs in the body and cause iron deficiency anemia. Internal bleeding can cause as a result of trauma or injury, resulting in blood loss.
Internal bleeding is a risk with some drugs or combinations of medications, especially when used for a long time. People in medical care who require regular testing may be subjected to a high number of blood draws, which could exacerbate the problem.
In many people, bleeding may be a contributing reason to RBC depletion and anemia. According to a 2018 study, the most common cause of iron deficiency anemia in elderly people is bleeding from drugs and underlying diseases.
The RBC count can be affected by a variety of drugs. Medications that impact the kidneys or hormones can cause the formation of RBCs by causing chemical imbalances.
Medications that disrupt digestion might make it difficult for the body to metabolize iron and other important vitamins like B vitamins. Chemotherapy medications, for example, can harm the bone marrow, which is crucial for producing healthy RBCs. Some drug combinations may have unknown side effects that affect how the body creates or uses RBCs.
It is recommended that people review the probable side effects of a drug and speak with a doctor about the probability of a drug creating signs of iron deficiency anemia.
H. pylori infection
Some infections might cause the body’s ability to utilise iron. According to a 2019 study, Helicobacter pylori infections are widespread in the elderly, affecting up to 50% of people over the age of 60. Anemia is one of the complications of H. pylori infections.
Chronic illnesses can cause a variety of problems in the body, including problems with RBCs and other systems involved in the production or usage of RBCs. Here are a few examples:
- liver disease
- kidney disease
- conditions in the intestines or stomach
When rendering a diagnosis, doctors will take into account any underlying disorders.
Chronic inflammation in the body can be caused by a variety of factors. Inflammation can interfere with basic activities like RBC production, depending on the nature and location of the inflammation. Anyone with a chronic inflammatory condition or another issue that causes long-term inflammation should talk to their doctor about their risk.
Anemia symptoms differ from person to person, but here are a few frequent ones:
- shortness of breath
- rapid heartbeat
- chest pain
Light-skinned people may notice that their complexion becomes paler or slightly yellow.
Blood tests will be used to determine anemia.
A complete blood count (CBC) test can assist determine the different types of blood cells and other blood components, such as hemoglobin, an oxygen-carrying protein. A low hemoglobin count can imply anemia and a low RBC count.
A packed cell volume (PCV) test may also be used to determine hematocrit levels. The percentage of RBCs in the blood is measured by the hematocrit level. A PCV test can reveal whether a person has too few RBCs, indicating anemia.
Doctors may employ follow-up testing in addition to blood tests to look for other important anemia-related issues. A C-reactive protein test to search for inflammatory indicators or a reticulocyte count to assess bone marrow production may be performed. They may also look for the following things:
- abnormalities in the gastrointestinal tract
- blood in the urine or stool
- H. pylori infection
- sufficient levels of B vitamins
- kidney function
Depending on the underlying cause and degree of anemia, doctors may offer several treatment options. Because various causes may be contributing to the condition, treatment will differ from case to case.
To raise the person’s iron levels, a doctor may prescribe supplemental iron in the form of medications, dietary iron, or intravenous iron.
If anemia is caused by an underlying condition, the doctor will seek condition for it. This may help them uncover other underlying causes of anemia or resolve the anemia.
If a doctor feels a prescription or a combination of medications is causing anemia, they may suggest alternate treatments if they are available. Alternatively, they may offer alternative methods of managing anemia until the person is able to stop using the medicine.
Management and suggestions
A person with iron deficiency anemia must ensure that their diet contains enough iron and other essential minerals.
The following are some suggestions for doing so:
- consuming more iron-rich meals such as dark leafy greens, meat, and beans
- Iron absorption can be improved by eating foods high in vitamin C, B9, and B12
- avoiding foods that may interfere with iron absorption, such as dairy and meals high in phytic acid
- taking iron supplements with food can help to alleviate the burning sensation in the stomach
Iron deficiency anemia is frequent in elderly people, and it can be caused by a variety of reasons. Blood loss, nutritional deficiencies, medicines, underlying diseases, and malabsorption are all possible causes of iron deficiency anemia in this age range.
Individuals who are having iron deficiency anemia symptoms should consult a doctor for a diagnosis. The doctor should be able to advise you on how to boost your dietary iron intake or address any underlying issues that are preventing you from absorbing iron.