High Blood Pressure
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, is a common problem affecting millions of people. It is equally common in men and women, however, women tend to note a bigger increase in blood pressure in the post-menopausal years compared to men of the same age.
The majority of individuals who develop hypertension do so without a specific cause. Hypertension can sometimes run in families. Therefore, individuals with other relatives with high blood pressure should be screened at a young age and frequently thereafter.
Hypertension often has no symptoms and has thus been referred to as "the silent killer." Symptoms of severely elevated blood pressure, may include:
- Vision changes
The diagnosis of hypertension is made by measuring the pressure with a blood pressure cuff. This measurement is routinely performed by a nurse or doctor. Two measurements are made when the blood pressure is measured. The systolic blood pressure is the top number in the blood pressure reading and represents the pressure generated when the heart beats. The diastolic pressure is the bottom number in the blood pressure reading and represents the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart is at rest. Your blood pressure measurements are used to determine if you hypertension or pre-hypertension.
- Hypertension: Hypertension is present when the systolic pressure is consistently over 140 mmHg or the diastolic pressure is over 90 mmHg.
- Pre-hypertension: Pre-hypertension is present when the systolic pressure is consistently between 120–139 mmHg or the diastolic pressure is between 80–89 mmHg in multiple readings. Individuals with pre-hypertension are also at risk for heart disease and stroke, so lifestyle changes are very important at this stage. Many people with pre-hypertension will go on to develop hypertension.
Treatment of hypertension includes:
- A low-salt diet
- An exercise program
- Weight loss
- Blood pressure medications if lifestyle changes do not work
Untreated hypertension can be dangerous and can cause: