When the heart pumps blood, pressure is applied to the arterial wall, giving rise to the label “blood pressure”. When the heart is aggressively pumping blood, this pressure is at its highest and is called systolic pressure. When the heart is resting (amid beats) your blood pressure decreases and is referred to as diastolic pressure. Together these numbers are used to determine your blood pressure, with the systolic pressure preceding the diastolic pressure and written or verbalized as 120/80 (normal). Both figures are crucial in maintaining a normal blood pressure level. Any reading exceeding 120/80 can pose a health risk, the more elevated the pressure, the greater the danger.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is an affliction in which the blood pressure is consistently exceeds 140/90. Pressure at this rate for prolonged periods can result in: stroke, heart attack, heart failure, arterial aneurysm or kidney failure. Symptoms of pre-hypertension are 121 to 139 for the first number, or between 81 and 89 for the second number. In the event of readings within these ranges immediate steps must be taken to prevent the more serious condition.
There are two principal types of hypertension: primary (essential) hypertension and secondary hypertension: Most individuals diagnosed, suffer from primary hypertension with there being no particular cause for the illness. Although there is no definitive cause, the consensus is: family history, environment, smoking, diet, obesity and salt intake are the most likely contributors. Secondary hypertension is a condition triggered by an existing heart, arteries or kidney ailment. Similar to primary hypertension there are no distinctive signs or symptoms. This has led to the disease being referred to as “the silent killer”. Additionally: tumors, alcohol addiction, thyroid dysfunction, birth control pills, pregnancy and narrowing of the aorta also contribute to the development of the disease. In the majority of cases people are not even aware that they are suffering with high blood pressure until it is diagnosed by their doctor. Unfortunately in most cases by the time a diagnosis is made the disease is in an advanced stage.
There are two methods applied to managing this disease. They are: through the use of: medication and self-care. When the illness is caused by the existence of a pre-existing condition, the high blood pressure will usually decrease once the primary disease is treated. For persons suffering from secondary hypertension there are numerous prescription drugs available: diuretics, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers.
(a) Diuretics (Water Pills) – is the primary treatment recommended. This type of medication helps the kidneys to excrete sodium and water as a result reducing the blood pressure.
(b) Beta blockers – they reduce the burdens of excitement and physical strain on the heart, at the same time causing the blood vessels to expand. The heart rate slows down thus exerting less force.
(c) Calcium Channel Blockers – These dilate the arteries, in this manner reducing the amount of pressure exerted on them thereby lessening the strain on the heart.
(d) Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE ) inhibitors – Angiotensin II is a substance manufactured in the blood which causes the muscles surrounding blood vessels to contract. The inhibitors curb this action allowing the blood vessels to enlarge.
(e) Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers – The workings of this medication is similar to that of ACE inhibitors. It prevents angiotensin II from binding to angiotensin II receptors on blood vessels which allows the vessel to enlarge.
Some people are predisposed to getting the disease. Age, heredity, race and socio-economic status are often some of the contributing factors. Similarly: obesity, sodium sensitivity, excessive alcohol drug use and lack of exercise. If you already suffer with the illness or are at risk of getting it, there are steps which can be taken to improve, delay or prevent the situation. A healthy lifestyle, weight loss, quitting smoking, limit of alcohol usage, a healthy diet and regular exercise can go a long way towards maintaining and improving ones health.
Knowing your blood pressure numbers can be critical in avoiding the serious repercussions due to lack of knowledge or neglect. Using a home blood pressure monitor to regularly check oneself or frequent checkups by your doctor and following a treatment plan can certainly help in ensuring long and lasting good health.
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