Blood 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.
Elevated 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.
Because there may be no hint that you have high blood pressure, it is often found when you visit your doctor for another reason or during routine physical exam.
How is Blood Pressure Measured?
Your doctor measures your blood pressure using a special device called a Sphygmomanometer, or blood pressure cuff, to find out how hard blood is pressing against the walls of the arteries. A blood pressure reading is recorded as 2 numbers, a top number and a bottom number. The top number, the systolic blood pressure, is the pressure of blood in the arteries when the heart is at work, beating and pumping.The bottom number, the diastolic blood pressure, is the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest, between beats.
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. Here is the categories for blood pressure levels in adults according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Categories for Blood Pressure Levels in Adults (measured in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg)
||Less than 120
||Less than 80
|High blood pressure
||160 or higher
||100 or higher
Causes of High Blood Pressure:
The cause of high blood pressure is largely unknown, although there are certain risk factors that increase an individual’s chance for developing high blood pressure:
- Race (African Americans are more likely to develop high blood pressure)
- Males (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).
- Sodium sensitivity (salt)
- Obesity and overweight
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Diabetics or individuals with gout or kidney disease
- Heredity (individuals whose parents had/have high blood pressure are more at risk)
- Age (the older people get, the more prone to high blood pressure)
- Some medications (always tell your doctor about every medication you are taking – some medications increase blood pressure, others may interfere with the effectiveness of antihypertensive drugs)
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure:
Most patients with high blood pressure do not experience any symptoms from this condition, although some may experience headaches, dizziness or nosebleeds in the more advanced stages of the disease. Most patients receive a blood pressure reading during a routine physical exam, which is when they first learn that they have abnormal blood pressure.
Treatment for High Blood Pressure:
Treatment for high blood pressure may vary depending on the severity of the condition, as well as the patient’s age and overall health. There are several lifestyle changes that patients can make to help reduce blood pressure, including:
- Lose weight if you are overweight
- Eat a healthy diet that is low in salt and fat
- Limit your alcohol to no more than two drinks a day
- Become physically active
- Take the medicine your doctor prescribes for you
- Know what your blood pressure should be and work to keep it at that level
When lifestyle changes do not provide adequate results, medication may be prescribed to help control high blood pressure. This may include Thiazide diuretics, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors calcium channel blockers and others. Your doctor will decide which medication is best for you.
It is important for patients with high blood pressure to take active control of their condition in order to reduce the associated risks and maintain their quality of life. Working together with one of the experienced doctors at Express Urgent Care can help patients develop a personalized treatment plan that keeps you happy and healthy.
For your urgent care needs, you can walk-in to Express Healthcare, LLC clinics any day during the year. We are located on Baltimore Ave (Route 1) on exit 25 of the Capital Beltway (Interstate 495) and on Greenbelt Rd on exit 23.