High Blood Pressure
What is high blood pressure?
It is when the force that the blood exerts against the blood vessel wall is too high. It is also called hypertension.
How is blood pressure measured?
It is measured by using a cuff that goes around the upper arm and a mercury column or pressure dial. As the cuff is filled with air, it tightens around the arm and blocks the flow of blood through the main artery. As the air is slowly released from the cuff, the person taking the blood pressure listens to the blood as it flows back into the artery. One sound is the highest force against the blood vessel walls and is called systolic pressure. The second or lower number is the lower force against the blood vessel wall and is called diastolic pressure.
How is blood pressure recorded?
The systolic pressure is written first, then a /, then the diastolic pressure, e.g. 120/85.
What is the normal blood pressure?
Everyone’s blood pressure varies during the day. It also rises slowly as we get older. The normal blood pressure should be less than 140/90.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
High blood pressure has been called the “silent disease” because many times there are no symptoms. That is why it is so dangerous. It can often go undetected or untreated.
What causes high blood pressure?
Most persons do not have an exact cause for their high blood pressure. This common type of hypertension is called primary or essential. In a small number of persons a cause such as kidney disease can be found. This type is known as secondary hypertension.
Are there any factors that make it more likely that you will get high blood pressure?
These factors make it more likely that you will get high blood pressure:
If there is a family history of high blood pressure at an early age.
If you smoke cigarettes
If you are overweight
Is high blood pressure very harmful?
Yes, if not properly treated, high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and kidney damage.
What is the treatment?
Your doctor to reduce blood pressure can prescribe drugs. Often it may require more then one drug to control blood pressure. It is very important that you always take your drugs just as prescribed. Never increase, decrease, or stop your medicine without your doctor’s advice.
How can I help control my high blood pressure?
You can do the following things to help control your high blood pressure:
1. If you smoke, stop smoking.
2. Avoid excess salt in your food.
3. Do not use alcohol to excess.
4. If you’re overweight, lose weight (as directed by your doctor). 5. Get regular exercise.
Will I always have to take medicine?
It is possible that you will always have to take drugs for your high blood pressure. It is also important that you see your doctor regularly because your treatment may need to be changed at various times.
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Timothy L. Biliouris, M.D.
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