WHAT IS BLOOD PRESSURE(B.P) AND HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE(HYPERTENSION)?
High blood pressure or hypertension means high pressure in the arteries. Arteries are vessels that carry blood from the pumping heart to all the tissues and organs of the body. High blood pressure does not mean excessive emotional tension, although stress andemotional tension can temporarily increase blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is or below 120/80; blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 is called "pre-hypertension", and a blood pressure of 140/90 or above is considered high.
The top number, the systolic blood pressure, corresponds to the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts and pumps blood forward into the arteries. The bottom number, the diastolic pressure, represents the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes after the contraction. The diastolic pressure reflects the lowest pressure to which the arteries are exposed.
An elevation of the systolic and/or diastolic blood pressure increases the risk of developing heart (cardiac) disease, kidney disease(renal), hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis), eye damage, and stroke (brain damage). These complications of hypertension are often referred to as end-organ damage because damage to these organs is the end result of chronic (long duration) high blood pressure. For that reason, the diagnosis of high blood pressure is important so efforts can be made to normalize blood pressure and prevent complications.
It was previously thought that rises in diastolic blood pressure were a more important risk factor than systolic elevations, but it is now known that in people 50 years or older systolic hypertension represents a greater risk.
HOW IS BLOOD PRESSURE( B.P ) MEASURED?
Blood pressure is measured with a blood pressure cuff and recorded as two numbers, for example, 120/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). Blood pressure measurements are usually taken at the upper arm over the brachial artery.
- The top, larger number is called the systolic pressure. This measures the pressure generated when the heart contracts (pumps). It reflects the pressure of the blood against arterial walls.
- The bottom, smaller number is called the diastolic pressure. This reflects the pressure in the arteries while the heart is filling and resting between heartbeats
The recommended guidelines to define normal and high blood pressure.
- Normal blood pressure less than 120/80
- Pre-hypertension 120-139/ 80-89
- High blood pressure (stage 1) 140-159/90-99
- High blood pressure (stage 2) higher than 160/100
What are the Symptoms of High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure usually causes no symptoms and high blood pressure often is labeled "the silent killer." People who have high blood pressure typically don't know it until their blood pressure is measured.
Sometimes people with markedly elevated blood pressure may develop:
- blurred vision,
- nausea and vomiting, and
- chest pain and shortness of breath.
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
- Kidney failure
- Eye damage with progressive vision loss
- Peripheral arterial disease causing leg pain with walking (claudication)
- Outpouchings of the aorta, called aneurysms
- In malignant hypertension, the diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) often exceeds 140 mm Hg.
- Malignant hypertension may be associated with headache, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, and stroke like symptoms
- Malignant hypertension requires emergency intervention and lowering of blood pressure to prevent brain hemorrhage or stroke.
What is White Collar Hypertension?
White coat hypertension, more commonly known as white coat syndrome, is a phenomenon in which patients exhibit elevated blood pressure in a hospital setting but not in other settings. It is believed that this is due to the anxiety some people experience during a hospital visit.
How can high blood pressure be controlled?
Blood pressure control is a lifelong challenge. Hypertension can progress through the years, and treatments that worked earlier in life may need to be adjusted over time. Blood pressure control may involve a stepwise approach beginning with diet, weight loss and lifestyle changes and eventually adding medications as required. In some situations, medications may be recommended immediately. As with many diseases, the doctor and patient work together as a team to find the treatment plan that will work for that specific individual.
- In about half of people with high blood pressure, limiting sodium intake by eliminating table salt, cooking salt, and salty and processed foods can reduce blood pressure by 5 mm Hg.
- Losing weight and participating in regular physical activity can reduce blood pressure further.
- If these lifestyle changes and choices don't work, medications should be added. The medications have been proven to reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and kidney problems.
How can we prevent having high blood pressure?
High blood pressure may be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle, including some of the following:
- eating a nutritious, low-fat diet;
- exercising regularly;
- decreasing salt (sodium) intake, read food labels so you know the salt content before you buy a product in the grocery store or eating a meal at a fast food restaurant, and avoid adding salt to foods;
- maintain a healthy weight and if you are overweight or obese, try to lose weight;
- drink alcohol in moderation;
- stop smoking;
- get routine health assessments and blood pressure screening;
- taking your blood pressure medications as directed, even if you're feeling fine; and
- reduce stress and practice relaxation techniques, physical activity will help with this.
- Keeping an aquarium may be good therapy for you. Studies going back as far as the late 80’s have shown that gazing at aquarium fish reduces stress and subsequently lowers blood pressure
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