High Blood Pressure is often called a “silent killer”, due to generally having no symptoms. But what does it mean to have high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is when the following two items happen:
- When the heart pumps blood into the arteries and throughout the circulatory system
- The force of the arteries as they resist blood flow
High blood pressure is harmful to the body because it causes the heart to work harder and faster than normal. When the heart is over-worked for extended periods of time, the heart tends to enlarge and weaken. Arteries also suffer becoming scarred, hardened and less elastic over time. Both leaving the heart and arteries more prone to injury, including an increased the risk of heart attack, stroke, damage to the eyes, kidney failure, atherosclerosis and congestive heart failure.
High blood pressure combined with other risks, such as obesity, smoking, high blood cholesterol or diabetes greatly increases the risk for heart attack or stroke.
What does it mean when I have my blood pressure taken at the doctors office?
- The higher number (also known as systolic pressure) represents the pressure exerted when the heart is beating.
- The lower number, or diastolic pressure, represents the pressure exerted when the heart is at rest between beats.
The systolic pressure is always stated first and blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury, or mm Hg. For example, a blood pressure reading of 120 over 80 means that your systolic pressure is 122 mm Hg and your diastolic pressure is 80 mm Hg.
What are the causes of high blood pressure?
According to the CDC, the cause of high blood pressure is largely unknown, although there are certain risk factors that increase an individual’s chance for developing high blood pressure:
- African Americans are more likely to develop high blood pressure)
- Men have a greater chance of developing high blood pressure than women until age 55. However, at over the age of 75, women are more likely to develop high blood pressure than men
- Sodium sensitivity (salt)
- Obesity and overweight
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Diabetics or individuals with gout or kidney disease
- individuals whose parents had/have high blood pressure are more at risk
- the older people get, the more prone to high blood pressure
- Some medications
- always tell your doctor about every medication you are taking – some medications increase blood pressure, others may interfere with the effectiveness of antihypertensive drugs
If you have concerns about high blood pressure, make sure to make an appointment with your doctor to have you blood pressure checked, and to discuss treatment options if you do have high blood pressure.
Tags: blood pressure, high blood pressure, hypertension