pressure is the result of two forces:
from the heart as it pumps blood into the arteries and
throughout the circulatory system, and the force of the arteries
as they resist blood flow.
blood pressure is harmful to the body because it causes the
heart to work harder than normal, leaving both the heart and
arteries more prone to injury.
High blood pressure also increases the risk of heart
attack, stroke, damage to the eyes, kidney failure, atherosclerosis
and congestive heart failure.
High blood pressure combined with other risks, such as
obesity, smoking, high blood cholesterol or diabetes greatly
increases the risk for heart attack or stroke.
high blood pressure persists without treatment, the heart must
work harder to pump enough blood and oxygen to the bodys
organs and tissues. When
the heart is over-worked for extended periods of time, the heart
tends to enlarge and weaken.
Arteries also suffer from elevated blood pressure, becoming
scarred, hardened and less elastic over time.
The Silent Killer
High blood pressure is often termed the
Silent Killer because it usually has no symptoms.
Many people have high blood pressure for many years without
knowing about it. The
only way to find out if your blood pressure is elevated is to
have your blood pressure checked.
Blood Pressure Readings
you have your blood pressure taken, what do the numbers mean?
The higher number, or systolic pressure, represents
the pressure exerted when the heart is beating.
The lower number, or diastolic pressure, represents
the pressure exerted when the heart is at rest between beats.
The systolic pressure is always stated first.
For example, a blood pressure reading of 120 over 80
(120/80) would mean that your systolic pressure is 122 mm Hg
and your diastolic pressure is 80 mm Hg. (Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury, or mm
High blood pressure (hypertension) is defined
as an adult having a systolic pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher
and/or a diastolic pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher.
Causes of High Blood Pressure
cause of high blood pressure is largely unknown, although there
are certain risk factors that increase an individuals
chance for developing high blood pressure:
(African Americans are more likely to develop high blood pressure)
(men have a greater chance of developing high blood pressure
than women until age 55.
However, at over the age of 75, women are more likely
to develop high blood pressure than men).
or individuals with gout or kidney disease
(individuals whose parents had/have high blood pressure are
more at risk)
(the older people get, the more prone to high blood pressure)
medications (always tell your doctor about every medication
you are taking some medications increase blood pressure,
others may interfere with the effectiveness of antihypertensive
Treating High Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure, there
is a great deal you can do to reduce it.
You and your doctor can determine the most effective
treatment for you. Treatment
may include a low-fat, low-salt diet, losing weight, quitting
smoking, reducing alcohol intake, and getting more exercise.
In addition, many medications can be used to reduce and
control your high blood pressure.
With effective monitoring and treatment, you can help
control your blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke,
kidney and heart failure and heart attack.
Contact the American Heart Association