What is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood
against the walls of arteries. Your heart beats about 60 to 80 times a minute under normal conditions. Your blood pressure rises on contractions and falls when your heart relaxes between beats. Blood pressure changes throughout the day. However, when blood pressure remains high over time, it is called high blood pressure or hypertension. High blood pressure is a chronic problem that can be treated, but not cured. It is often called the silent killer because many times there are no symptoms.
What are the consequences of high blood pressure?
According to the American Heart Association there are a number of possible health consequences that can happen over time when high blood pressure is left untreated:
- Damage to the heart and coronary arteries
- Kidney damage
- Vision loss
- Erectile dysfunction
- Memory loss
- Fluid in the lungs
- Peripheral artery disease
How is blood pressure measured?
Two numbers describe blood pressure. Systolic pressure (the top number) measures the pressure as the heart beats. Diastolic pressure is the bottom number in the equation and representing the heart’s pressure as it relaxes between beats. A consistent blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg or higher is considered high blood pressure. Both numbers in a blood pressure test are important. The categories of blood pressure in adults include:
Normal – Systolic less than 120 mm Hg – Diastolic less than 80 mm Hg
Pre-Hypertension – Systolic 120 – 139 – Diastolic 80 – 89
Stage 1 Hypertension – Systolic 140 – 159 – Diastolic 90 – 99
Stage 2 Hypertension – Greater than 160 – Greater than 100
What can I do to control high blood pressure?
If your blood pressure is high, your doctor will recommend how often it should be measured through the course of the year. Healthy individuals should be sure their blood pressure is taken during their annual exam. Remember that high blood pressure is often referred to as “the silent killer” because there are typically no symptoms. Things you can do to improve blood pressure include:
- Take any medication prescribed by your physician
- Limit your salt/sodium intake
- Maintain an ideal body weight
- Manage your stress