Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

Hypertension, commonly referred to as high blood pressure, affects one out of three adults, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This disease is very serious and it is often called the silent killer, as many people do not know what their blood pressure is. If high blood pressure goes untreated death can result. Every time you go to the doctor, your blood pressure should be checked. If you do not know what your blood pressure is, it is extremely important to find it out. If you cannot afford to go to a family practitioner, free testing is located across campus, in gyms, and in grocery stores. If you do know your blood pressure, it is pertinent that you understand what your numbers mean and get yourself checked regularly!

Blood pressure is a measure of the amount of pressure the blood puts on the arteries as it travels throughout the body. It is measured by how hard your heart works when it pumps the blood in and out of it. The top (higher) number of your blood pressure is referred to as the systolic blood pressure, while the bottom (lower) number is called the diastolic blood pressure. The systolic number measures the amount of pressure in the arteries when the heart fills with blood and beats and the diastolic number measures the amount of pressure in the arteries after the heart beats and is relaxed. Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower; if either number is elevated beyond these points, blood pressure is higher than normal. Hypertension is considered to occur when one or both of the numbers are elevated to a certain level; this classification begins when the systolic pressure is 140 or higher or when the diastolic pressure is 90 or higher, so this is 140/80 or higher or 120/90 or higher. However, heightened systolic blood pressure is considered worse than a heightened diastolic level, but both are important. Any levels between normal and hypertensive blood pressure are considered to be pre-hypertensive. If the top number reaches 180 or higher, or the bottom number reaches 110 or higher, this is considered to be a hypertensive crisis; immediate medical attention is required.

High blood pressure, most of the time, does not show any signs or symptoms. Without regular blood pressure screenings, an individual would normally not know that they have hypertension. The CDC reports that over 20% of people who have high blood pressure do not know that they do, a key reason hypertension is referred to as the silent killer. Many people may think they are in fact healthy, as they do not know their blood pressure is high. Individuals with extremely high blood pressure, like those experiencing a hypertensive crisis, may have side effects including a bad headache, fatigue, chest pain, or visual difficulties. It is extremely important to monitor your blood pressure regularly, and if it is heightened above normal levels to seek help from a dietitian or physician. Taking a few minutes to get your blood pressure checked may save your life.

References:

American Heart Association

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

WebMD

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. lowering diastolic pressure  |  July 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I really love the information your providing here, keep up the good work!

  • 2. Jennifer Monroe  |  May 2, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Never known it is possible to have hypertension without knowing. Very informative article.

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