The term “hypertension” is the preferred word to describe high blood pressure, or blood pressure readings that consistently exceed 120/90 mm/Hg.
Our team recognizes the importance of creating health solutions that target overall health to relieve symptoms of hypertension and prevent the development of cardiovascular disease. To fully understand how to manage hypertension and support your health, it is vital to understand the basics of hypertension.
What exactly is high blood pressure?
The Basics of Hypertension
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the most common health problems currently plaguing adults worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hypertension is characterized by consistently elevated blood pressure in the arteries and the symptoms that accompany increased blood pressure levels.
To understand why blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, you must first understand the nature of blood pressure measurement. Monitoring your blood pressure involves measuring the force catapulted against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood throughout your body. When these levels are too high, heart conditions develop.
Blood pressure readings are measured and described in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg. The numbers are delivered in two numbers and arranged in a fraction. The highest edge of normal, for instance, is written 120 over 80 (or 120/80 mmHg). The type of high blood pressure being described can involve an evaluation of either the top number (systolic blood pressure), the bottom number (diastolic blood pressure), or both measures combined.
The top number is called systolic pressure.
- Systolic pressure is considered high if it consistently measures over 140.
- Systolic pressure is considered normal if it consistently measures below 120.
- Elevated blood pressure (also called pre-hypertension) describes a condition in which the systolic pressure measures between 120 and 140 most of the time. Elevated blood pressure is still considered a cause for concern to most departments of health.
The bottom number of your measurement is the diastolic pressure.
- Diastolic pressure is considered high when it consistently measures 90 or higher.
- Diastolic pressure is considered low when it consistently measures 80 or below.
- Elevated blood pressure or pre-hypertension identifies a measurement of 80-89 most of the time. Most health and human services consider this measurement a cause for concern rather than a cause for celebration.
When blood pressure falls within the range of prehypertension levels, you are more likely to develop high blood pressure. Heart and kidney problems and prior stroke are strong risk factors for developing high blood pressure in adults in the United States.
If you have either of these conditions, inconsistent heartbeats or decreased blood flow, your doctor may want to monitor your blood pressure closely and see levels either higher or lower than typical recommendations to prevent a hypo or hypertensive crisis.
Risk Factors for Hypertension
- The level of water and salt in your body
- Your nervous system, kidney, and blood vessel function
- The state and balance of your hormonal system
Advanced age is one of the most common reasons for elevated blood pressure. Advanced age leads to hardening of the blood vessels. Stiffened blood vessels lead to an increase in blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure increases the likelihood of having a stroke, heart attack, or early death and increases your likelihood of developing heart failure and kidney disease.
The American Heart Association strongly encourages mitigation efforts to avoid the development of heart conditions.
Your risk of high blood pressure increases if you are subject to a range of factors, including:
- Being of African American descent
- Chronic stress or anxiety
- Diet high in sodium
- Family history of high blood pressure
Unfortunately, much of the time, the precise reason for high blood pressure development is not known. This is called primary or essential hypertension, or hypertension that develops due to an unknown or compounded source. High blood pressure that happens due to another medical condition or only after administering medication is called secondary hypertension.
Common Causes of Secondary Hypertension
- Alcohol abuse
- Autoimmune disorders such as periarteritis nodosa
- Chronic kidney disease
- Coarctation of the aorta
- Cocaine use
- Diabetes (if it causes kidney damage)
- Disorders of the endocrine system, including adrenal tumors (pheochromocytoma, aldosteronism), thyroid disorders, and Cushing syndrome
- Appetite suppressants
- Birth control pills
- Certain cold medications
- Migraine medications
Standard Treatment and Intervention
Because there is still some debate as to the exact cause of hypertension, there are different interventions available for successful hypertension management. These include the following:
- Dietary changes. Sodium and high sugar intake have been linked to the advent of hypertension. Eliminating or limiting these staples in the diet can help mitigate the symptoms of hypertension.
- Exercise regimen additions. People with hypertension may struggle with their weight or may lead sedentary lives. Adding a new exercise regimen can help lower blood pressure.
- Remove alcohol from the diet. Alcohol has been linked to a slew of health issues, including hypertension. Eliminating alcohol–or at least severely limiting intake–can help reduce blood pressure levels.
- Eliminating smoking. Smoking has also been linked to increases in blood pressure. Eliminating smoking can have significant positive effects in a matter of weeks.
- Medication. Used as a first or last line of defense, medication can successfully manage hypertension and prevent the progression to heart disease.
Although there are effective medications to manage high blood pressure, other interventions can be used to manage hypertension. Our office offers different treatment options for hypertension in Rock Hill, SC, and Charlotte, NC, including weight loss.
Make an appointment today to learn more about our weight loss solutions!