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HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (HYPERTENSION)

Article by Dr. Ahlam Ali, MBBS – General Practitioner Allied Medical Center, Dubai, UAE

High blood pressure (hypertension) is when your blood pressure is regularly higher than recommended healthy levels. You often won’t realize if you have it because it rarely causes any obvious symptoms. However, it’s called “silent killer� and it’s one of the major risk factors for heart disease and stroke. The only way to find out you have it is by having your blood pressure measured.

WHAT IS BLOOD PRESSURE?

Blood pressure is the pressure of blood in your blood vessels (arteries). Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Your blood pressure is recorded as two figures. For example, 150/95 mm Hg. This is said as 150 over 95.

The top (first) number is the systolic pressure. This is the pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts.

The bottom (second) number is the diastolic pressure. This is the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between each heartbeat.

Normal blood pressure is a systolic pressure of less than 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and a diastolic pressure of less than 80 mm Hg, or 120/80 mm Hg. Having a blood pressure greater than 140/90 mm Hg is considered high blood pressure or hypertension.

SYMPTOMS OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

High blood pressure (hypertension) doesn’t usually cause symptoms, so it’s unlikely that you’ll feel ill if you have it. You’ll probably only find out you have high blood pressure if you have your blood pressure checked by a doctor or nurse.

Occasionally, some people with very high blood pressure may get headaches or have problems with their vision. If you’re regularly having these kind of symptoms, you should contact your GP to get it checked out.

IF THERE ARE NO HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (HYPERTENSION) SYMPTOMS, WHY IS IT A PROBLEM?

High blood pressure is a risk factor for developing a cardiovascular disease (such as a heart attack or stroke), and kidney damage, sometime in the future. If you have high blood pressure, over the years it may do some damage to your blood vessels (arteries) and put a strain on your heart. In general, the higher your blood pressure, the greater the health risk. But, high blood pressure is just one of several possible risk factors for developing a cardiovascular disease.

HOW IS HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (HYPERTENSION) DIAGNOSED?

A one-off blood pressure reading that is high does not mean that you have 'high blood pressure'. Your blood pressure varies throughout the day. It may be high for a short time if you are anxious, stressed, or have just been exercising.

You have high blood pressure if you have several blood pressure readings that are high, and which are taken on different occasions, and when you are relaxed.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO REDUCE YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE

Fortunately, hypertension can be easily detected. Once you know you have high blood pressure, you can work with your doctor to control it.

TIPS TO HELP YOU TO CONTROL AND PREVENT HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE:

  • Eat healthy food: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish
  • Decrease salt in your diet
  • Mountain healthy weight
  • Increase physical activity
  • Limit alcohol
  • Don’t smoke
  • Manage stress
  • Monitor your blood pressure at home

Visit your doctor for regular checkup, especially if you have family history of hypertension, diabetes and or heart disease.

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