What is High Blood Pressure?
- High blood pressure (HBP) is also called Blood pressure is the force with which blood flows through your blood vessels. This includes the network of veins, arteries and capillaries.
- Doctors are able to diagnose high blood pressure with a simple test. They use an inflatable upper arm cuff. This device comes with a gauge attached. The cuff is slid above the elbow of your arm. As the cuff fills with air it tightens around your upper arm and a reading is taken. The cuff then deflates and can be removed.
- Blood pressure readings provide two numbers that may appear in fraction form. The systolic pressure number appears first. It indicates the pressure your heart exerts to push blood through your vessels. A reading of 120 or less is normal.
- The second number is the diastolic pressure. This is a measure of the pressure between heartbeats. A reading of 80 or below is normal.
- If the reading falls between 120/80 and 129/80 the patient falls within an ‘elevated’ blood pressure category. This means the individual is beginning to exhibit symptoms of HBP.
- Doctors have now identified a ‘prehypertension’ It presents as ‘higher than normal’ blood pressure readings that are not within the true HBP range.
- True HBP may fall within a Stage 1 or Stage 2 category. Stage 1 readings may be any combination of the numbers 140/90 to 159/99. This condition may be treatable through lifestyle changes. A Stage 2 HBP reading would begin at 160/100 and go upward. If an individual is in Stage 2 he or she will need immediate intervention in the form of medication to reduce the likelihood of an adverse health event.
- A blood pressure reading of 180/120 or higher places the patient in a category of hypertensive crisis. Immediate medical intervention is advised.
HBP is an indication that the heart is working harder to pump blood through your network of vessels. It can result in a variety of problematic health conditions including stroke, atherosclerosis, heart disease and kidney failure. Some research is revealing a connection between HBP and dementia as well.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
The causes of HBP are not known. Instead, medical professionals point to a number of instigators that may result in any of the forms of HBP. They are:
- Excessive salt in the diet
- Excessive weight to obesity
- Overindulgence in alcohol
- Genetics, ancestry, and age
- Smoking & sedentary lifestyle
- Kidney, thyroid & adrenal disorders
Despite advances in medicine it should be noted that in 95% of HBP cases the cause cannot be identified.
Why are There “New” Guidelines for High Blood Pressure?
New guidelines for many disorders including HBP do not necessarily occur on a continual basis. They are updated only when evidence from new studies suggests the previous guidelines were not accurate or relevant any more.
Recent research indicates a much greater portion of the population should be diagnosed with high blood pressure or hypertension.
What Does the Latest Research Suggest for the Prevention of High Blood Pressure?
Multiple esteemed resources offer the same advice for the prevention of HBP. The greatest inhibitor of HBP is making healthy lifestyle choices. This includes the following:
- Eat a healthy diet. It should include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meat or another protein source. DASH – or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is an excellent resource for ensuring you are getting the proper nutrition.
- Exercise regularly. This does not have to be in the form of running marathons or intensive workouts. Instead, work with your physician to find a regimen that fits you and your needs.
- Avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits including smoking, and the excessive intake of alcohol, pharmaceuticals or other drugs, and stress.
What Does the Latest Research Suggest for the Treatment of High Blood Pressure?
A treatment protocol for HBP comes in various forms. If there is an early indication of the disease then your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes to prevent further progression of the ailment and perhaps reverse symptoms. However, at a certain point, any number of medications may be prescribed according to the presentation of symptoms. These may be diuretics, enzyme inhibitors, and multiple forms of ‘blockers’.
It is important to have regular checkups and follow your doctor’s advice to ensure HBP is controlled. It is the road to a healthier, longer life.