Family Medicine North  
     
     
Hypertension
 
 

What is Blood Pressure?
Blood Pressure is the pressure that blood exerts against the inner walls of blood vessels as it is pumped through the circulatory system. Normally, a healthy person has arteries that are strong, flexible and muscular. When the heart contracts, the force of blood against artery walls increases. This force, or pressure, is called systolic pressure, and it is the number at the top of a blood pressure reading. By the same token, when the heart relaxes is causes the pressure against arteries walls to decrease. The second pressure is called diastolic pressure, and is the number at the bottom of a blood pressure reading.

Who Can Get Hypertension?
Anyone can have hypertension, but certain risk factors increase the chances for a person to be hypertensive. These factors include heredity, gender, age, race, obesity, and sensitivity to sodium (salt). Other factors include heavy alcohol consumption, smoking, use of oral contraceptives, and a sedentary lifestyle.

A ‘Silent’ Disease
Fifty percent of patients who have hypertension, or high blood pressure, are not aware of it because they do not have any outward symptoms. Although these patients may not feel their disease, hypertension can damage their bodies in a number of ways. Stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and blindness are some of the risks that result from hypertension. When blood pressure is significantly elevated, a patient may experience headaches or blurry vision.

Take Action!
Although high blood pressure cannot be cured, it can be controlled with diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, and in some cases medication. Monitor your blood pressure regularly, and be sure to see your doctor for regular check-ups.

Do:

  • Cut down on salt intake
  • Exercise regularly
  • Keep your weight in the normal range
  • Check for diabetes
  • Check your blood pressure regularly
  • Limit your caffeine intake
  • Take your hypertension medicine as directed

Don’t:

  • Drink alcohol excessively
  • Smoke
  • Lead a sedentary life

What is a normal blood pressure for your age?
A blood pressure under 140/90
for people over the age of 18 was considered normal, but new standards have included a category called pre-hypertension. A blood pressure of 120/80 to 139/89 is considered pre-hypertensive. Plus, only one number needs to be elevated to be at risk, so a blood pressure of 141/70 would be categorized as hypertensive. Have your blood pressure checked regularly.

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