What is high blood pressure?
According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure, also known as HBP or hypertension, is when your blood pressure, the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels, is consistently too high. Normal blood pressure is defined as less than 120/80 mm Hg.
To survive and function properly, our tissues and organs need the oxygenated blood that is carried by the circulatory system. When the heart beats, it creates pressure that pushes blood through a network of blood vessels like arteries, veins and capillaries. This pressure has two forces. The first force and the first number in the reading is systolic pressure and occurs as blood pumps out of the heart & into the arteries. The second force is the second number in the reading and is diastolic and is created as the heart rests between heart beats. The first number tends to fluctuate more, like during exercise or stress, while the second number remains fairly consistent.
Any measurement over 120/80 mm Hg is considered elevated. High blood pressure, also known as Hypertension is diagnosed at 130/80 mm Hg or higher. A possibly life-threatening hypertensive crisis occurs when your blood pressure is above 180/120 mm Hg.
What causes high blood pressure?
High blood pressure has many causes and risk factors related to your health, lifestyle, and family history. These include:
- High sodium diet
- Certain medications
- Older age
- Family history of high blood pressure
- Excess alcohol intake
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Being overweight or obese
A visit with your doctor to assess your risk factors is a preventive measure you can take to maintain good health.
What complications can high blood pressure cause?
While high blood pressure doesn’t have many symptoms and is considered a silent killer, below are some complications it can cause.
- Kidney disease
- Eye damage
- Heart attack
- Peripheral artery disease
- Vascular dementia
High blood pressure is considered a “silent killer” because many people don’t know they have it until it’s too late.
What is the method of diagnosing high blood pressure?
A simple blood pressure reading can diagnose high blood pressure. During your visits, you will always have your blood pressure checked to identify any changes over time. If your blood pressure readings are consistently too high, your doctor diagnoses you with high blood pressure.
What is the treatment for high blood pressure?
Regular monitoring is the best way to understand your blood pressure. High blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms. That’s why it is so dangerous. But it can be managed. Nearly half of the American population over age 20, has HBP, and many don’t even know it. Not treating high blood pressure is dangerous. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Make sure you get your blood pressure checked regularly and treat it the way your health care professional advises.
Ways to prevent HBP are to not smoke, vape and also do your best to avoid secondhand smoke. Reach and maintain a healthy weight. Eating a healthy diet that is low in saturated and trans fats and rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products is ideal. Aim to consume less than 1,500 mg/day of sodium (salt). Even reducing your daily intake by 1,000 mg can help. Eat foods rich in potassium to get 3,500 – 5,000 mg of dietary potassium per day. Limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day if you’re a woman or two drinks a day if you’re a man. Be more physically active. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week, or a combination of both, spread throughout the week. Add muscle-strengthening activity at least two days per week for more health benefits. Again, take medicine the way your health care professional tells you. Knowing what your blood pressure should be and work to keep it at that level is key to managing and/or avoiding HBP.
If lifestyle changes aren’t enough to decrease your blood pressure, medications may be needed. It’s important for you to test frequently if you have been diagnosed with HBP. Call Temecula Family Medicine today for a well visit or simply walk-in. No appointments are needed.