01 September 2007

Hypertension - High Blood Pressure

What is High Blood Pressure?

In hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, blood is forced through the heart and vessels throughout the body with a greater force than is necessary. Over time, hypertension damages the heart and blood vessels. Eventually, untreated hypertension can lead to life-threatening health problems such as heart disease and strokes.

When your blood pressure is checked, two measurements--systolic and diastolic--are taken.

Systolic blood pressure represents the peak pumping pressure of your heart when it is fully contracted during a heartbeat.

Diastolic blood pressure represents the pressure in the heart when it is at rest between heartbeats. You may be diagnosed with hypertension if your systolic pressure is 140 or higher, and your diastolic is 90 or higher.

Normal blood pressure is defined as a systolic less than 120 and a diastolic less than 80 (or "less than 120 over 80"). "Pre-hypertension" is a new classification that impacts approximately 45 million American adults and is defined as a systolic of 120 to 139 and a diastolic of 80 to 89. Individuals who have pre-hypertension are on the brink of developing full blown hypertension.

Hypertension is defined as a systolic pressure of 140 or higher and/or a diastolic of 90 or higher. Hypertension is further classified by stages - stage 1 and stage 2 - depending on the systolic and diastolic pressure readings (see table below).

Hypertension is diagnosed when either the systolic or diastolic pressure is high or if both the systolic and diastolic pressures are high. To be diagnosed with hypertension, two or more properly measured blood pressure readings must be taken on each of two or more doctor's office visits and then the readings are averaged. This means it takes more than just one elevated blood pressure reading to be diagnosed with hypertension.

When the two blood pressure measurements fall into separate stages--for example a Stage 2 systolic reading, but a diastolic pressure in the normal range, the higher of the two is used for the classification. The higher part of the blood pressure measurement along with your personal risk for hypertension and other health conditions you may have, help your doctor determine the best treatment options for you. The table below lists the stages or classifications of hypertension.

Systolic Diastolic
Normal Less than 120 Less than 80
Pre-hypertension 120 to 139 80 to 89
Stage 1 140 to 159 90 to 99
Stage 2 160 or higher 100 or higher

The higher the blood pressure, the more likely you are to experience a heart attack, stroke, heart failure or kidney disease.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home