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  High blood pressure

Blood pressure is the measurement of the pressure of the arteries and veins pumping blood. Normal blood pressure is a measurement below 120/80. The first number is “systolic” blood pressure, meaning the pressure in the arteries as the heart pumps blood through them. The second or bottom number is the “diastolic” pressure, which is the blood pressure in arteries as the heart relaxes after each contraction. Pre-hypertension is blood pressure in the range of 120/80 and 139/89. High blood pressure or Hypertension is blood pressure that is measured over 140/90. One in four adults is affected by hypertension, it is known as the “silent killer.”

High blood pressure Heart diseases
High blood pressure

What are the Health Risks of Hypertension?

Hypertension increases many health risks, including:

Heart or Cardiac Disease
Kidney or Renal disease
Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis)
Eye damage
Stroke – brain damage

These complications are known as end-organ damage because they result in chronic untreated hypertension. Diagnosis and treatment are the key to preventing these major health issues.

What are the Symptoms of Hypertension?
Blood pressure in the early stages has no symptoms, which is why it is called “the silent killer.” Until the disease progresses to one or more of the sever complications such as heart attack or stroke, it may not be diagnosed. It is important for all adults to have periodic blood pressure screening, because it can progress without any indications or symptoms.

There are a few patients who may experience headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath and blurred vision, which leads to a doctor’s visit and then blood pressure screening. Patients with symptoms are more likely to follow the doctor’s orders for medication. Unfortunately, many people first find out that they have high blood pressure after significant end-organ damage has occurred, such as stroke, kidney failure or impaired vision. The United States has launched many public awareness campaigns to prevent this disease from progressing to end-organ damage.

Are there types of Hypertension?
Yes, high blood pressure is defined as either ‘essential’ or ‘secondary.’ Essential hypertension is the most common and accounts for approximately 95% of hypertension patients. There are several factors that cause Essential Hypertension. Secondary Hypertension is less common accounting for about 5% of hypertension patients. Secondary Hypertension is the direct result of an underlying condition or abnormality of the organs or systems of the body. The basic causes of Essential Hypertension are not known even though it affects almost 75 million Americans. Certain dietary behaviors have been associated with Essential Hypertension, such as salt intake. The following factors indicate a risk for Essential Hypertension: advanced age, kidney failure, being of African American descent, obesity, and hereditary susceptibility. Patients with Essential Hypertension share a particular artery abnormality. These patients have an increased stiffness in the tiny arteries or arterioles that supply blood from the heart to the furthest places in the body. The cause of the stiffness in the arterioles is unkown.

How is Hypertension Treated?
Hypertension treatment ideally involves lifestyle changes and medication. Lifestyle changes should include the following:
• Quit smoking.
• Reducing the amount of sodium in your diet to 2,300 milligrams (about 6 grams or less than 1 teaspoon salt) a day or less.
• Losing weight if you are overweight or obese.
• Getting regular aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking at least 30 minutes a day, several days a week).
• Limiting alcohol to two drinks a day for men, one drink a day for women.
• Eating a healthy diet, including the DASH diet (eating more fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy products, less saturated and total fat).

There are several types of drugs used to treat hypertension, including: Angiotensin, Diuretics, Beta blockers and Calcium channel blockers. Diuretics are usually the first therapy recommended by doctors. There are many types of diuretics available. If there are certain underlying medical factors, doctors may begin medication therapy with a different choice of medicine than the diuretic. Sometime a patient my begin therapy with a combination of drugs.

Regardless of the drug therapy, patients should get their blood pressure checked at least once a month. If a patient is consuming diuretics, then once or twice a year, they should have their blood potassium levels checked. Diuretics can lower potassium, while ACE Inhibitors and ARBs can increase potassium levels. Patients should also have the creatinine levels checked as this can indicate the health of the kidneys.

After the blood pressure measurement goal is achieved, patients should visit their doctor once every three to six months. If other diseases are present or lead to a hypertension diagnosis, such as heart failure, then the patient should be have a physical exam more often.

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