What is normal blood pressure?
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers. An example of this could be ‘the blood pressure is 120 over 80’, which is written as ‘120/80mmHg’
- The first figure is the systolic blood pressure– the maximum pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts (beats) and pushes blood out into the body.
- The second figure is the diastolic blood pressure. This is the minimum pressure in the arteries between beats when the heart relaxes to fill with blood.
The systolic blood pressure is always listed first, then the diastolic pressure. A typical normal blood pressure reading would be 120/80 mmHg.
What’s classed as high?
There is a natural tendency for blood pressure to rise with age due to the reduced elasticity of the arterial system. Age is therefore one of the factors that needs to be taken into account in deciding whether a persons blood pressure is too high.
In general terms high blood pressure is systolic blood pressure consistently above 140mmHg and or a diastolic pressure over 85mmHg. Depending on various factors, the level at which blood pressure is considered high enough to be treated with medication can vary from person to person.
What are the symptoms?
One of the big problems with high blood pressure is that it hardly ever causes symptoms.
This means it may go unnoticed until it causes one of its later complications, such as a stroke or heart attack.
Severe hypertension can cause symptoms such as : Headache, sleepiness, confusion, coma.
What complications are caused by high blood pressure?
- Atherosclerosis : narrowing of the arteries.
- Stroke : Haemorrhage or blood clot in the brain.
- Aneurysm : dangerous expansion of the main artery either in the chest or the abdomen, which becomes weakened and may rupture.
- Heart attack
- Heart failure: reduced pumping ability
- Kidney failure
- Eye damage
What factors increase the risk of hypertension?
Anyone can suffer from high blood pressure, but certain factors can seriously aggravate hypertension and increase the risk of complications:
- A tendency in the family to suffer hypertension
- Diabetes Type 1 or Type 2
- Kidney diseases
- High alcohol intake
- Excessive salt intake
- Lack of exercise
- Certain medications, such as steroids
What can I do?
It is a good idea for every adult near or past middle age to know their Body mass index, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. You should also have regular blood pressure tests if there is a family tendency for hypertension. This way, treatment can be started before any complications arise.
Change your lifestyle:
- Stop smoking
- Lose weight
- Exercise regularly- at least 30 mins or more on most, preferably all days of the week.
- Cut down on alcohol- aiming for less than 21 units a week for men, 14 units a week for women
- Eat a varied diet
- Avoid all salt in food
- Reduce stress
These changes will lower blood pressure- to reduce your risk of developing the condition in the first place or to treat hypertension.
If your blood pressure requires medical treatment, you will probably have to take medicine on a regular basis.
Which medicines are used to treat hypertension?
- Ace inhibitors stop the production of a hormone called angiotensin II that makes the blood vessels narrow. As a result, the vessels expand, improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure.
- Angiotensin- II receptor antagonists work in a similar way to ACE inhibitors. But instead of stopping the production of angiotensin II, they block its action. This allows the blood vessels to expand, improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure.
- Beta-blockers block the effect of the hormone adrenaline and the sympathetic nervous system on the body. This relaxes the heart so that it beats more slowly, lowering the blood pressure.
- Alpha-blockers cause the blood vessels to relax and widen.
- Calcium-channel blockers reduce muscle tension in the arteries, expanding them and creating more room for the blood flow. In addition, they slightly relax the heart muscle so it beats more slowly, reducing blood pressure.
- Diuretics help the body get rid of excess salt and fluids via the kidneys. In addition in certain cases they relax blood vessels, reducing the strain on your circulation.
An important factor in determining the danger of high blood pressure is your cholesterol- a high cholesterol increases the sensitivity of the arteries to high blood pressure and makes them more likely to be damaged.
This means when treating blood pressure, it’s crucial to know what the cholesterol is- and if it is raised to bring it down.
Whilst diet, exercise, ideal weight and regular exercise are all important in reducing cholesterol, most people with high blood pressure and normal or high cholesterol also need a cholesterol lowering drug, such as a statin.
Dr Nav Uppal is a UK trained Doctor based in IMC Jelita. For an appointment please call: 6465 4440 or make an appointment online: https://www.imc-healthcare.com/appointments/