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High Blood Pressure - Hypertension

Everyone has a blood pressure, which is need to help pump blood around the body. Having high blood pressure means that you heart has to work harder to pump blood. This increases the risks of adverse effects.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Overview

As blood circulates through your body delivering essential nutrients it exerts a force on the walls of the arteries. This force is call blood pressure and is measured in mm of Hg (mercury). It normally measures 120/80mm of Hg. Having high blood pressure means that you heart has to work harder to pump blood. This increases the risks of adverse effects.

Who is at risk of High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure or hypertension is a common condition all over the world. For instance, around 50 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure and so do around 10 million people, i.e. about 1 in 4 middle aged adults, in the United Kingdom. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. In 95% of cases of high blood pressure, there is no single identifiable explanation. However, all available evidence shows that your lifestyle plays a significant role in regulating your blood pressure.

Sadly hypertension remains under-diagnosed even today, because it produces no to mild symptoms. This is the reason why many refer to it as the ‘silent killer’.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

Some people may experience warning signs (symptoms). Usually there are no symptoms and you may feel well – until damage occurs. The only way of knowing that you have high blood pressure is to have it measured by your doctor, nurse or pharmacist, and monitored on a regular basis. How often depends on your general health and whether you have other health conditions, and on the use of medicines for blood pressure control.

Risks associated with high blood pressure

High blood pressure increases your chance of developing heart disease (heart attack, heart failure, stroke etc.), diabetes, kidney trouble, eye complications. The thumb rule is that the higher your blood pressure, greater the risk of life threatening diseases.

  • Brain – leading to stroke

  • Eyes – leading to blindness

  • Heart – resulting in heart attack and heart failure (the heart has to work harder to pump blood against the higher pressure so it gets larger, exhausted and fails).

  • Kidneys – leading to kidney failure, dialysis and kidney transplant.

The only way to avoid this is by identifying and taking care of the risk factors that lead to hypertension. Certain factors like genetics or age cannot be changed, but there are several others such as overweight, smoking, alcohol, fatty and salty diet, and lack of exercise that you can control.

The treatment of hypertension begins with changes in high calorie intake and sedentary lifestyle. If needed, you will then be put on medication that lower blood pressure.

What is normal blood pressure?

Blood pressure is defined as the force exerted by the blood on the walls of the arteries as it circulates. A normal blood pressure reading is considered to be of 120/80 mm Hg or less. The two figures used to describe blood pressure are:

  • The systolic pressure (the first, higher number) – It occurs when your heart beats and pumps blood.

  • The diastolic pressure (the second, lower number) – It occurs when your heart relaxes and is filled with blood.

What is high blood pressure (hypertension)?

Your blood pressure can go up or down throughout the day depending on how busy or worried you are, your level of physical activity and the amount of caffeine, alcohol or tobacco you have. Also your general state of health can affect your blood pressure. It means that when measuring blood pressure, more than one reading needs to be taken, especially if that reading is indicates a higher blood pressure than normal.

Hypertension is defined as a blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 mm Hg systolic pressure or greater than or equal to 90 mm Hg diastolic pressure in an adult.

Blood pressure categories:

  • Normal: Systolic less than 120 mm Hg or Diastolic less than 80 mm Hg

  • Pre-hypertension: Systolic 120–139 mm Hg or Diastolic 80–89 mm Hg

  • Stage 1: Mild hypertension: Systolic 140–159 mm Hg or Diastolic 90–99 mm Hg

  • Stage 2: Moderate to Severe hypertension: Systolic 160 or higher mm Hg or Diastolic 100 or higher mm Hg.

Lowering High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure must be controlled and reduced, to prevent serious long term complications. Simple Self Care lifestyle measures are important for and treating, high blood pressure. For some people, these measures are all that is needed but for others, in addition to lifestyle measures, they have to take medicines.

Self Care:

  • Maintain an ideal bodyweight. Learn how to calculate your body mass index to see how close you are to your ideal body weight.

  • Follow a heart healthy diet. Eat foods low in fat and cholesterol, trim the fat off meat, and eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and whole grain foods. Eat foods low in salt and sugar. That means cutting down on chips, processed meats, cured/smoked products, fast foods and sweet bakery items.

  • Read food labels and choose low salt and sugar alternatives. Avoid adding salt when cooking.



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