High Blood Pressure

Overview

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a disease that affects more than 76 million adults in the United States and approximately one billion individuals worldwide. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), one in three adults has high blood pressure. Over half of those individuals treated do not have their hypertension under control.[1]

Symptoms

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Blood pressure is most simply defined by two numbers, systolic and diastolic.

  • Systolic-blood pressure in the arteries as your heart beats (upper number)
  • Diastolic-blood pressure in the arteries between heart beats (lower number)

Blood pressure that remains above normal increases your risk for heart disease, renal failure, stroke and death.[2]

What is a normal blood pressure?[2]
According to the American Heart Association, blood pressure is classified as:

  • Normal when systolic pressure is below 120 and diastolic pressure is below 80 mmHg.
  • Prehypertension when systolic pressure is 120-139 or diastolic pressure is 80-89 mmHg.
  • Hypertension when systolic pressure is above 140 or diastolic pressure is above 90 mmHg.

THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTROLLING YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE

As blood pressure increases, the risks of stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney failure also increase. Lowering blood pressure even a small amount reduces that risk. A recent study showed that for every 1 mmHg reduction of blood pressure, the relative risk of cardiovascular disease and death is reduced by 2%.

So, reducing your blood pressure by 15 mmHg could reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease or death by 30%.[3]

treatment

Treatment Options

While there is no cure for hypertension, there are steps you can take to reduce high blood pressure

Lifestyle
Adopting a healthy lifestyle may help prevent high blood pressure. Here are some key modifications you may try:

  • Eating a better diet, which may include reducing salt
  • Enjoying regular physical activity
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Managing stress
  • Avoiding tobacco smoke
  • Limiting alcohol

Medication
In addition to behavioral changes, medication may be necessary to help control hypertension and complying with medication prescriptions is vital.

There are multiple medications, known as antihypertensives, that may be used to treat and manage high blood pressure.

When medication alone is not sufficient other treatment options may be considered.

References

  1. cdc.gov/bloodpressure/about.htn
  2. American Heart Association
  3. The SPRINT Research Group. A Randomized Trial of Intensive versus Standard Blood-Pressure Control. N Engl J Med 2015;373:2103-2116 Nov 26.

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