Blood Pressure and Hypertension

Hypertension is more commonly known as high blood pressure and relates to the pressure or tension in the arteries of the body.

Blood pressure, as the name suggests, is the pressure that causes the blood to flow through the body from areas of high pressure (the arteries), through the body organs and into areas of low pressure (the veins).

The "pressure" occurs as a result of the heart pumping blood into the arteries as well as the resistance to the flow of blood by the arteries. The arteries play a vital role in the functioning of our bodies as their role is to carry blood from the heart to all parts of the body.

Normal blood pressure has a reading below 120/80. Blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 is referred to as "pre-hypertension". High blood pressure has a reading of 140/90 or above.

The blood pressure reading is explained as:

The first number is called the "systolic blood pressure" and this shows the pressure (tension) in the arteries as the heart contracts and pumps blood into the arteries.
The second number is called the "diastolic pressure" and this shows the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes after contraction.

Any increase in the systolic and/or diastolic blood pressure will increase the risk of renal (kidney) disease, cardiac (heart) disease, hardened arteries, stroke (brain damage) and eye damage (resulting from damage to the back part of the retina).

High blood pressure can usually be symptom free which means that it can go undiagnosed for many years, even decades, before it is too late to prevent some of the potentially fatal health problems which can result from it, such as strokes or heart attacks.

Therefore, someone can suffer from high blood pressure and not knowing about it, it is left untreated, which can result in the person suffering a fatality resulting from a stroke or heart attack. In fact this is a scenario which tragically plays out time and time again.

There are cases, however, where some people who have uncomplicated hypertension (or symptom-less high blood pressure) but may complain of dizzy spells, headaches, blurred vision or a shortness of breath. If this is the case, they should ensure they see a doctor for a medical check so problems can be treated straightaway.

The earlier potential blood pressure problems are caught and treated, the better the chance of controlling them. Usually, the first contact with the doctor is delayed until it is too late and by that time the end-organs have suffered considerable damage.

Blood Pressure Guide


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