Hypertension means that the pressure inside your arteries (blood vessels) is too high. This can cause hardening of the arteries and result in heart attacks and strokes. For anyone with high blood pressure we offer regular checks by nurses and doctors to make sure that the risk of complications is minimised.
How is blood pressure measured?
Blood pressure is measured with a ‘sphygmomanometer’ which gives a reading in the form of 140/85 mmHg (140 over 85), it is measured in millimetres of mercury.
The first reading – the systolic blood pressure – reflects the blood pressure in the blood vessels when the heart contracts.
The second reading – the diastolic blood pressure – is the pressure when the heart rests between beats.
What is a high blood pressure reading?
This is a controversial issue but at present it appears that blood pressures that are persistently over 150/90 can cause health problems. For people with other medical problems, in particular diabetes, the blood pressure should even be below 130/80.
How is Hypertension diagnosed?
The diagnosis of hypertension is usually made when repeated blood pressure readings show persistently raised readings.
Occasionally readings taken from a home blood pressure monitor can be helpful and in some cases the doctor may want to request a 24-hour blood pressure monitoring with a portable machine.
Why is high blood pressure a problem?
People with high blood pressure rarely complain about acute symptoms. However over years the raised pressure damages blood vessels and can cause heart disease, strokes, dementia and kidney damage.
Other risk factors that can increase the risk of developing these conditions are:
- High cholesterol levels
- Excess alcohol intake
- Lack of exercise
It is therefore of particular importance to address all of these factors simultaneously.
How is high blood pressure treated?
With only marginally raised blood pressure sometimes lifestyle changes are all that is required.
However many people do have to take medication regularly to lower the blood pressure. It is common to take 2 or more medicines to lower the blood pressure. These medicines usually need to be taken for life.