Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is a medical condition characterized by elevated pressure in the arteries. Blood pressure is the force exerted by the blood against the walls of the arteries as it flows through them.
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers: systolic pressure (the pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood) and diastolic pressure (the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats). It’s typically measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Normal blood pressure is usually considered to be around 120/80 mm Hg.
Hypertension is diagnosed when blood pressure consistently measures at 130/80 mm Hg or higher. However, the thresholds for diagnosis and treatment may vary depending on factors such as age and presence of other medical conditions.
Hypertension is a significant risk factor for various health complications, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and vision loss. It’s often referred to as a “silent killer” because it can exist for years without noticeable symptoms. Some individuals may experience symptoms such as headaches, shortness of breath, or nosebleeds, but these are not reliable indicators of high blood pressure and usually occur only in severe cases.
Lifestyle modifications and medications are commonly used to manage hypertension. Lifestyle changes may include maintaining a healthy diet low in sodium, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, and managing stress. Medications such as diuretics, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), calcium channel blockers, and others may be prescribed depending on the individual’s condition and response to treatment.
Regular monitoring of blood pressure is essential for individuals with hypertension to ensure that it remains under control and to prevent complications. It’s also important to follow up with healthcare providers regularly for proper management and adjustments to treatment as needed.