High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a common condition that occurs when the pressure of the blood flowing against the blood vessel walls is above the normal range. Also known as hypertension, this condition can develop for years without causing any symptoms, and may lead to an increased risk of serious health conditions such as heart attack and stroke.
This condition affects a majority of the population at some point in their lives, with the risk increasing with age. Although high blood pressure is a serious condition, it can be effectively managed in most cases.
Blood pressure is written in two sets of numbers, for example, 120/70. The first number represents the systolic reading, which is the pressure when the heart is beating, while the second number is the diastolic number, which is the pressure when the heart is resting. High blood pressure occurs when the systolic reading is elevated above 140 and/or the diastolic reading is 90 or above.

Cause of High Blood Pressure

The specific cause of primary high blood pressure is not known, although there are certain factors that can increase a patient's risk of developing this condition, including:

  • Close Relatives With High Blood Pressure
  • African-American
  • Over 35 Years of Age
  • Overweight
  • Excessive Use of Salt in Food
  • Alcohol Consumption
  • Women Using Oral Contraceptives
  • Physically Inactive
  • Pregnant Women
  • Constantly Talking

In most patients, high blood pressure develops gradually over several years.
Secondary hypertension is another form of high blood pressure that may develop as a result of an underlying condition, such as kidney abnormalities, tumors, congenital heart defects and certain medications. This type of high blood pressure usually affects only 5 to 10 percent of people with this condition.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

Most patients with high blood pressure do not experience any symptoms from this condition, although some may experience headaches, dizziness or nosebleeds in the more advanced stages of the disease. Most patients receive a blood pressure reading during a routine physical exam, which is when they first learn that they have abnormal blood pressure.

Diagnosing High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is measured quickly and easily by placing an inflatable arm cuff and pressure-measuring device on the upper arm. Within just a few seconds, this device determines your systolic and diastolic pressure. In most cases, your blood pressure will be taken on three separate occasions in order to accurately diagnose high blood pressure, since blood pressure can fluctuate throughout the day. Blood pressure screenings are recommended at least once every two years once patients reach the age of 20.
Once diagnosed, it is important for patients to make the necessary lifestyle changes or other prescribed treatments, as high blood pressure can lead to serious complications if left untreated, including heart failure, aneurysm, artery damage, blood vessel rupture and metabolic syndrome.

Treatment for High Blood Pressure

Treatment for high blood pressure may vary depending on the severity of the condition, as well as the patient's age and overall health. There are several lifestyle changes that patients can make to help reduce blood pressure, including:

  • Lose Weight if you are Overweight
  • Eat a Healthy Diet that is Low in Salt and Fat
  • Limit Your Alcohol to no more than Two Drinks a Day
  • Become Physically Active
  • Take the Medicine Your Doctor Prescribes for you
  • Know What Your Blood Pressure Should be and Work to Keep it at that Level

When lifestyle changes do not provide adequate results, medication may be prescribed to help control high blood pressure. This may include Thiazide diuretics, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors calcium channel blockers and others. Your doctor will decide which medication is best for you.
It is important for patients with high blood pressure to take active control of their condition in order to reduce the associated risks and maintain their quality of life. Working together with one of the experienced doctors at Torrance Family Care can help patients develop a personalized treatment plan that keeps you happy and healthy