Today we discuss one of the worlds “silent killers”--high blood pressure, or hypertension.
Millions of Americans are dealing with it everyday and millions more have it but don’t know it or even fail to treat it. Over time high blood pressure leads to heart disease from heart attacks and heart failure to kidney damage to strokes. Sometimes headache, vision changes, chest pain, or fatigue can be symptoms of high blood pressure but most patients have no symptoms of high blood pressure. This is why blood pressure should be checked every 2 years for most adults.
Let’s define blood pressure!
Blood pressure is the amount of force the blood puts on artery walls as it moves through the body. Normally this should be about 120 over 80 in adults. That means when the heart is squeezing (systolic) the pressure should be around 120 and when the heart is resting (diastolic) the number should be about 80. And both numbers are important for health.
If these numbers are consistently over 140 on the top or 90 on the bottom, medical treatment may be recommended. With certain health conditions like diabetes, kidney disease or heart disease, treatment may be recommended even when blood pressure is in the 130's.
Most people (about 95%) have no known cause of their high blood pressure or essential hypertension. Sometimes kidney disease, sleep apnea, certain medications or hormone disorders can cause “secondary” high blood pressure. Your physician will have to do some testing to determine those causes. Some lifestyle issues can make blood pressure worse as well such as too much salt in the diet, smoking, obesity, or stress.
Proper treatment of high blood pressure starts with a proper diagnosis. Blood pressure must be measured correctly in a seated position with a proper size cuff to get an accurate reading. If the blood pressure is high, resting for 15 to 20 minutes and repeating the test usually will lower the blood pressure amount. If the blood pressure is staying over 140 on the top or over 90 on the bottom, lifestyle changes and/or medical treatment is likely needed. Keeping the blood pressure down is the best way to prevent many chronic medial problems like heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, kidney damage, and eye damage.
High blood pressure treatment starts with lifestyle changes like stopping smoking, daily exercise, weight loss and limiting salt and caffeine in your diet. If these do not help, there are several medications that can help lower blood pressure. Most of these medications have been proven safe, effective and come in generic forms so cost is not an issue.
So, don’t let this silent killer get you!
Get your blood pressure checked every year or two. Prevent high blood pressure by avoiding smoking, limiting caffeine and salt as well as performing daily exercise, like walking. If you are one of our Direct Access MD patients stop in anytime to get your blood pressure checked.
That’s What Doc Says…