High Blood Pressure
To understand high blood pressure you need to know that:- Blood is carried from the heart to all parts of your body in vessels called arteries.
Blood pressure is the force in the arteries when the heart beats (systolic pressure) and when the heart is at rest (diastolic pressure). Everyone has a different blood pressure and it can change in the same person during the day and night.
Blood pressure can be measured using a sphygmomanometer (a hand-pumped arm cuff) and stethoscope or by a digital machine and it is written down as one number over the other like a fraction, for example: 120/80. The top number is the systolic pressure (heart beat) and the bottom number is the diastolic pressure (heart rest), and both numbers are important. It is recommended that all adults have their blood pressure checked regularly and keep a record of their readings.
What is High Blood Pressure?High blood pressure is known as hypertension in medical terms and refers to high pressure in the arteries. A blood pressure reading of 140/90 is the level used to diagnose high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is consistently raised at these levels and above, it will need to be treated. This may involve making changes to your lifestyle and taking medication. If it is not treated then you will be more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, eye damage, heart or kidney failure in the future. Almost one in three adults in the US and UK have high blood pressure making it a major health concern.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?There are two forms of hypertension - secondary and essential. Secondary hypertension only accounts for a small number of people and means there is an underlying cause or specific abnormality in one of the organs or systems of the body. Essential hypertension is a far more common condition and is where there may be a number of factors whose combined effects produce high blood pressure or there may be no definite cause.
Who Gets High Blood Pressure? High blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms and can affect anyone. however you are more at risk of developing hypertension if:
- high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke run in the family
- you are overweight or obese
- you eat a diet high in salt
- you eat an unhealthy diet
- you do not exercise
- you have diabetes, heart or kidney disease
- you drink excessive alcohol
- you smoke tobacco
- you are older than 65 years
- you are from african or south asian descent