What is hypertension in layman’s terms? Simply put, hypertension is high blood pressure. The pressure of blood in your body determines the rate that oxygen is supplied to your organs and cells, which essentially helps keep them alive and functioning properly.
Blood Pressure Categories
Your blood pressure is usually measured using a blood pressure cuff. The measurement is made up of systolic and diastolic pressure. Diastolic is the relaxation of the arteries during each beat while the systolic measures the pressure during each heart contraction. Your blood pressure is shown on the chart as systolic over diastolic.
Systolic should always be higher than diastolic pressure. The measurement for blood pressure is mm Hg, which is millimeter of mercury, as it relates to how high mercury is pushed upward in the measuring instrument. So, what is hypertension?
According to the American Heart Association, normal blood pressure is less than 120/80mm Hg. If your relaxing blood pressure ranges from 130 to 139 systolic or 80 to 89 mm Hg diastolic, it is known as hypertension stage 1. At this stage, a doctor may recommend lifestyle changes and may consider prescribing blood pressure medication.
Meanwhile, if your blood pressure is consistently 140/90 mm Hg or higher, it is known as hypertension stage 2. At this stage, a doctor is likely to prescribe a combination of lifestyle changes and blood pressure medication.
Blood pressure of 180/110 mmHg is dangerous while 200/120 mmHg is life threatening and can cause severe health problems and even death. Consult your doctor immediately.
Negative Effects of Hypertension
Blood pressure that is too high can damage your organs and blood vessels over time and even lead to stroke, heart attacks, eye disease, dementia, kidney failure and death. Hypertension is one of the risk factors for heart disease, especially in people who may have other health issues such as diabetes or high cholesterol.
Blood pressure changes, especially systolic, are normal in circumstances such as physical activity, fear or pain responses, and even daily functions. Blood pressure can also increase due to caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Your sleeping pressure is lower than during the day when you are up and about.
Hypertension refers to sustained high blood pressure which does not return to a baseline in a short period of time. If your blood pressure stays high for extended periods and you also have other risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol and so forth, you need to have this addressed as soon as possible to avoid long term damage.
Symptoms of Hypertension
Usually, hypertension doesn’t cause any noticeable symptoms. When it does, you may experience headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, and nosebleeds. A hypertensive emergency (which is dangerous) may cause blurry vision, anxiety, chest pain, and nausea. This is why you should check your blood pressure regularly.
What Should You Do if You Think You May Have High Blood Pressure?
Consult your physician. Your blood pressure may be taken a few times over a period to determine if a high reading is an aberration or once off. If you are found to have a higher than normal reading, the doctor may prescribe hypertension medication to help control your blood pressure and may also recommend lifestyle changes, such as a special diet and regular exercise. Should your blood pressure be extremely high at any point, you will most likely be admitted to hospital for observation and treatment. Hypertension can be fatal and can also cause long term damage to your organs if not controlled.
Now that you know what is hypertension and how it can negatively effect you, be sure to have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis. Maintaining a safe and normal blood pressure is required to live a long and healthy life.
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