Hypertension is more commonly called high blood pressure. Most people would be familiar with a blood pressure monitor and test. You have a cuff put around your arm and then it is inflated. Once it hits the set point, it will deflate and then display your current blood pressure reading.
This reading consists of two figures. The top figure (your systolic reading) measures the amount of pressure in your arteries when your heart contracts (heart beat). The bottom reading (the diastolic reading) measures the pressure between heartbeats (when your heart is refilling with blood and resting).
The ideal reading is less than 120 over 80. Going up from that point, you may have pre-hypertension. A hypertensive crisis (emergency care needed immediately) may appear when your reading is at least 180 systolic or 110 diastolic.
Blood pressure readings are affected by lots of things. Lack of physical exercise and your general state of health are two major factors. If you are under a lot of stress at a certain point in your life, that can create havoc, so unless you have very high or very low readings, one abnormal reading is nothing to panic about.
Approx. 70 million people in the US have hypertension. A further two million teenagers and children are also affected. The good news is that the blood pressure monitors are inexpensive, so you can buy your own monitor and test your blood pressure whenever you need to. This is a wise idea because when you are tested in a hospital or at the doctor’s clinic, your readings may be slightly higher due to a natural stress level increase. This is often called “the white coat syndrome.”
There are numerous causes of hypertension including: obesity, smoking, drinking, leading a sedentary lifestyle, eating too much salt, deficiencies in vitamin D, potassium, magnesium and calcium, reactions to certain medications, genetics, aging, chronic kidney disease and stress.
Sometimes there are no obvious symptoms, but there are plenty that can occur including: chest pain, dizziness, fatigue, bad headaches, nausea, blood in your urine, trouble breathing and sight problems.
There are various procedures for treating hypertension. Improve your diet with enough of the right nutrients and get plenty of regular exercise. Losing weight, giving up smoking and reducing your consumption of alcohol are also ways to control the blood pressure.
You may be prescribed medication to bring your blood pressure down, and thus keep it under control. If you have diabetes or other serious health ailments, it may be harder to control your blood pressure without this extra help. You may have echocardiograms and electrocardiograms (EKG) to see how strong your heart is, along with several blood tests that measure your cholesterol, sugar and electrolyte levels, as well as your renal function.
As with most medical problems, hypertension isn’t isolated. If you can lead a healthy lifestyle, you will reduce the need for tests, medications, surgical procedures and other forms of intervention. That will, in turn, keep you healthy and help you avoid all sorts of medical complications down the track, including hypertension.