Hypertension related complications are one of the leading causes of deaths.  According to the Centers for Disease Prevention, almost 1,000 people succumb to hypertension-related complications EVERY DAY in the United States alone.

Despite the catastrophic impact of hypertension on health, understanding the condition can be difficult. In this article, we will be talking about some of the must-know facts about hypertension. This article will lay the necessary groundwork to understand the condition better. It will also help you in preventing and controlling the condition better.

What is Blood Pressure?

hypertensionBefore we get any further, it is imperative to understand what the term blood pressure means. As you are quite aware, the heart pumps the blood through a series of blood vessels in your body. This pumping of the blood results in exertion of force against the walls of the blood vessels. Specifically, on the blood vessels carrying blood away from heart AKA Arteries. This measurable force is the Blood Pressure. Blood pressure is essential to circulate blood throughout the body. Without any blood pressure, most parts of the body won’t even receive the blood at all. So, yes, the blood pressure is essential. But, when it exceeds a certain limit, which we will be talking about shortly, it becomes a problem.

Blood pressure measurement

If you see a blood pressure measurement, you will notice that there are two numbers.  The first number is always higher than the other followed by a unit called mm of Mercury (or mm of Hg). So, what are these two numbers and what do they tell you? The higher number which is conventionally written first is the Systolic blood pressure. The lower number following it is the Diastolic blood pressure. These two numbers arise as a result of periodic contraction and relaxation of the heart.

The pressure is higher when the heart contracts and lower when it relaxes. The medical term for contraction of the heart during regular heart beat  is a Systole. The pressure during this period is the Systolic Blood Pressure. On the contrary, the relaxation phase of the heart is a diastole. The pressure measured during this period is the Diastolic Blood Pressure. Hence, you have both a systolic and a diastolic blood pressure in your measurement.

What is a ‘Healthy’ level of Blood Pressure?

Many factors affect blood pressure such as age, sex, and ethnicity among others. As a result, the ‘Normal’ numbers may vary quite a bit.  The American Heart Association (AHA) has defined the following ranges to be ‘Normal.’

  • Normal systolic and diastolic pressures are 120 and 80 respectively.
  • Prehypertension occurs when the systolic blood pressure is 120-129 and diastolic pressure is 80-89
  • Stage I hypertension is when the systolic blood pressure is 140-159 or a diastolic pressure is 90-99
  • A Stage II hypertension is when the systolic and diastolic pressure exceeds 160 or 100 
  • A hypertensive crisis arises when the systolic and diastolic blood pressures are above 180 or 110 respectively

What are symptoms of hypertension?

There are no clear signs or symptoms of hypertension. As a matter of fact, many people don’t even realize that they may be suffering from hypertension.  Hence, it is crucial to get the blood pressure checked regularly. Remember to remind your doctor to check your blood pressure whenever you visit.

Am I at risk of developing hypertension?

As I said earlier, some factors can determine your risk of developing high BP. According to the latest CDC numbers, one in three Americans has a high blood pressure. This translates to an estimated 67 million people who suffer from hypertension. Anyone can develop hypertension, and even children are not completely immune to it.

Common risk factors

Hypertension Risk Factors

Can I Prevent Hypertension?

There is a silver lining to all this gloomy hypertension talk after all! You can take many steps to prevent, delay and avoid complications related to hypertension. Here are some actionable steps that you can start implementing right away:

  •  If you have any of the risk factors that we discussed above, ckeck your blood pressure often
  • Eat a healthy diet. Read more about how to control your hypertension naturally here.
  • Get more physical and exercise at least a few times a week.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco.

Something to take home

Hypertension is a complicated condition. It may have some disastrous consequences if it is not managed properly. There are many steps that you can take toward a healthy, hypertension-free life. Stay tuned for a trove of tips, suggestions, and relevant information to make your live healthy and fulfilled. Until the next time!

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