What is Hypertension?
Hypertension is a medical term used by healthcare professionals to describe high blood pressure. Blood pressure describes the force taken from the heart to pump blood through the heart and out to the body with each heartbeat. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), five blood pressure ranges are categorized as normal, elevated, hypertension stage I, hypertension stage II and hypertension crisis. It is important to your health to know your blood pressure and understand how blood pressure can affect the rest of your body. Hypertension is easily treatable with medication as well as lifestyle modification. In this short article, we will discuss the risks of untreated hypertension, ways to manage hypertension, and finally how to monitor your blood pressure.
Normal blood pressure is a measurement of less than 120/80 and an indicator of good health. This can be maintained through a heart-healthy diet as well as regular exercise.
Elevated blood pressure is a measurement of 120-129/ less than 80. Elevated blood pressure can become present in times of stress or the beginning stages of serious health problems.
Hypertension stage I is a measurement of 130-139/ 80-89. At this stage of hypertension, your physician will assess the possible reasons for your high blood pressure and discuss with your ways to combat and reverse hypertension. This can simply be accomplished through diet and exercise as well as stress reduction. At this stage of hypertension, it is vital to understand the dangers of untreated high blood pressure and how it can affect your entire body.
Hypertension stage II is a measurement of 140/90 or higher. This is due to underlying health issues. At this stage of high blood pressure medication is introduced alongside lifestyle modification to control high blood pressure. Medication is prescribed to avoid dangerous health complications such as heart disease and stroke.
Hypertensive crisis is a measurement of 180/120 and requires immediate medical attention. At this stage of blood pressure, patients can experience organ damage, chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/ weakness, vision changes. This is a life-threatening blood pressure range and requires medical attention immediately.
Unmanaged hypertension can lead to many life-threatening illnesses. Imagine a kinked garden hose containing high pressured water inside constantly. Eventually, the hose will become backed up and water will eventually seep out at high pressure. This is similar in the way your arteries are the hose and the water is your blood. Every bodily system is affected by long-term and uncontrolled high blood pressure. The Heart over time can become enlarged by constant resistance, leading to Heart failure. Tiny blood vessels in your kidneys can become over-pressurized and damaged, leading to Kidney failure. Blood vessels within the brain can also become over-pressurized and damaged leading to Stroke. Uncontrolled hypertension can also cause ocular pressure changes leading to Blindness. Hypertension can easily be managed through lifestyle modification along with medication. Talk to your physician about your blood pressure and together find ways you can manage and maintain your blood pressure to avoid hypertension.
Monitoring Your Blood Pressure
This is done simply by staying proactive with your health. Blood pressure can be measured at your doctor’s office and recorded in your medical record. This is the best way to keep a detailed record of your blood pressure, while also having a healthcare professional monitor it. A healthcare professional is not required to monitor your blood pressure and can easily be done independently. You can check your blood pressure at a local pharmacy or in the comfort of your home. Most pharmacies have a machine that automatically measures blood pressure, usually at a small price. Portable blood pressure devices can also be purchased at any pharmacy for use at home or on the go. Keeping track of your blood pressure independently, whether you go to the pharmacy or have your device, requires a log or diary to record your measurements. Sharing your blood pressure diary with your physician at every annual physical is ideal and recommended. You will impress your physician as well as have a better understanding of your health.
Whether you are maintaining normal blood pressure or managing hypertension, it is important to remember that everyone’s health is unique to themselves and not one person has an identical health journey. The contents of this article are not to give medical advice whereas only a licensed physician can prescribe hypertension management. Contact your doctor for more ways to avoid or manage hypertension.
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AHA. (2021, January). Understanding blood pressure readings. www.heart.org. Retrieved November 6, 2021, from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your primary care provider.