Hypertension or High Blood Pressure?

Written by Debby Mar 10 2014

What is blood pressure and how is it measured

Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood in your arteries and is measured in millimetres of Mercury (mm Hg). It is recorded as two figures. The first one (the top one) is called the systolic pressure and indicates the pressure in your arteries when your heart contracts. The second number (the lower one) is known as the diastolic pressure and this represents the pressure in the arteries when your heart is resting between heart beats.

A consistently high blood pressure is known as Hypertension, for example, if your blood pressure was 150/94 and is sustained at this level for some weeks. However, a one off reading of 150/94 does not indicate hypertension as your blood pressure may change throughout the day, depending on circumstances and exercise. It is also important to note that our blood pressure becomes a little higher anyway as get older due to the lack of elasticity in the blood vessels as we age.

In most cases the cause of hypertension is unknown and is called primary hypertension. It may be due to a narrowing of the arteries which means the heart has to work harder. In some cases though, it is caused by another condition such as kidney disease or a hormone problem and this is known as secondary hypertension.

Although there may not be any symptoms to high blood pressure, it is a risk factor in developing cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack or stroke, in the future.

So what can you do to avoid high blood pressure? A healthy lifestyle can go a long way in reducing your risk from hypertension and its complications.

  • Losing some excess weight can make a big difference.
  • Exercise regularly. Aerobic exercise, walking, swimming,gardening, are all beneficial.
  • Eat a healthy diet and in particular, reduce your salt intake.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Try to cut down on anxiety and stress in your life. Yoga can be beneficial in helping you to do this.

At The Luxton Clinic in Chinnor we sometimes, as a precaution, take a patients’ blood pressure when we consider their complaint may be associated with a circulatory disorder. Usually the result is fine but we do occasionally send a patient back to their GP for further investigation.

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