High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Blood is the life force for all living beings. Our circulatory system keeps our body nourished with oxygen-rich blood that is continually being pumped throughout our bodies. Your blood pressure is the measurement of how much pressure is being put on the system that keeps your blood moving. This measurement is expressed in two numbers — systolic (the top number), which is the pressure in your arteries while your heart is pumping, and diastolic (the bottom number), which is the pressure in your arteries while your heart is at rest. As you can imagine, too much pressure is a bad thing! Too much pressure can cause arteries to burst, and depending on where those arteries are, this can present as an aneurysm, stroke, or heart attack.

High blood pressure is not a condition that should be ignored or treated only when there are symptoms. Hypertension is the chronic disease that is a result of uncontrolled high blood pressure. Hypertension is the number one cause of cardiac disease and stroke, which are the top two killers of Americans. Nearly 1 in 3 American adults have high blood pressure and less than half have it under control.

At Taylor Internal Medicine, we’ll help you handle and even reverse your hypertension and all the problems it can cause.
Hypertension can cause:


Blindness or vision changes
Cardiac disease
Angina

Stroke
Kidney disease
And much, much more.


Understanding Hypertension

Diabetes is becoming more common, in fact, 75 million Americans have hypertension.

Numbers for what constitutes high blood pressure have changed.

Used to be, a reading of 140/90 was the lower parameter for what gave you a “high blood pressure” reading. That guideline has been lowered to 130/80 to protect patients, decrease the effects, and increase prevention and early treatment. Currently, if your blood pressure is at 130/80 or above, you’re considered to be at a higher risk for heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and more. It’s because all of the blood vessels that feed your heart, your brain (stroke) and your kidneys have to work so much harder to keep those systems going. Most of the time, people don’t know they’re suffering damage from high blood pressure.

BLOOD PRESSURE CATEGORY SYSTOLIC mm Hg
(upper number)
 DIASTOLIC mm Hg
(lower number)
NORMAL LESS THAN 120 and LESS THAN 80
ELEVATED 120 – 129 and  LESS THAN 80
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
(HYPERTENSION)
STAGE 1
130-139 80-89
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
(HYPERTENSION)
STAGE 2
140 OR HIGHER or  90 OR HIGHER
HYPERTENSIVE CRISIS
(consult your doctor immediately
HIGHER THAN 180 and/or HIGH THAN 120

Hypertension

Hypertension is diagnosed based on a variety of test results and long-lasting high blood pressure that puts you at an increased risk of complications. Uncontrolled hypertension puts you at risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease, and the scary part is, most people don’t even have symptoms. Left untreated, chronic high blood pressure can wreak havoc on your entire body system. Once diagnosed, hypertension can be treated and managed.

Gestational Hypertension

Gestational hypertension is high blood pressure that occurs during pregnancy and is generally temporary, “cured” by delivering the baby. During the pregnancy, however, gestational hypertension can cause problems for both mother and baby. High blood pressure makes it difficult for the baby to get the oxygen it requires to grow and develop and can cause stroke, preeclampsia, or eclampsia for mothers. Close monitoring of the pregnancy is required and may result in bed rest or early induction of labor.

Symptoms of Hypertension

Hypertension is referred to as “the silent killer,” because the majority of people who have high blood pressure do not feel acute symptoms. Many times, the symptoms mimic stress or a poor night’s sleep — all of which could be the cause and a side effect of hypertension! Many people begin to experience symptoms when blood pressure remains high for long periods of time and begins to affect body organs or when it is causing a stroke or heart attack. Signs of extremely high blood pressure include:


Unexplained headache
Fatigue
Chest pain
Altered vision

Pounding in chest, neck, or ears
Dizziness
Chest Pain
Shortness of breath


What You Need to Know About Hypertension

There are many misconceptions about hypertension and the management of the disease. Here are some things you need to know.

Salt is not the only culprit.

Many people are under the impression that simply not sprinkling table salt on their food will keep their blood pressure under control. While this will certainly help, it is not the solution, because table salt is not the only culprit. Common things that raise your blood pressure include:


Carbs, especially processed foods — bread, pasta, rice
Pickles or pickled foods
Deli meats
Butter and margarine
Fried foods

Bacon and other cured meats
Packaged snack foods
Tobacco
Alcohol
Caffeinated beverages

This is not to say that you should not enjoy these foods, but simply that you should do so in moderation and should monitor your consumption as a part of attempting to control your blood pressure.

How Hypertension is Managed

Hypertension is managed by modifying diet and exercise routine and incorporating stress reduction. High blood pressure can be managed with a variety of medications. Together, you and your internal medicine doctor will develop a treatment plan based on your condition. Your treatment plan may change over the course of your disease as your body adjusts to treatment.

The most important treatment plan for managing hypertension is early identification. Knowing what your blood pressure is helps you to identify early and seek treatment before it becomes dangerous. Know your numbers!

At Taylor Internal Medicine, we can diagnose, treat, and manage your hypertension. Contact us to schedule your evaluation today!

For more information about your symptoms or how to manage your high blood pressure, visit these online resources: 

American Heart Association

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention