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HYPERTENSION - HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE - DANGER TO THE HEART

 

Who has HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?

Everyone has blood pressure.  However approximately every 5th of New Zealand adults has abnormally high blood pressure - known medically as Hypertension.

Blood pressure is the pressure of blood against the artery walls as it circulates around the body. A blood pressure reading is a measurement of this pressure. 
A blood pressure reading consists of two components, both of which are measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). e.g. 120 / 80.

The higher number is the "systolic" reading. This is the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts to force the blood around the body. 

The lower number is the "diastolic" reading. This is the pressure in the arteries when the heart is relaxed after a beat.

It is normal for blood pressure to vary throughout the day in response to factors such as stress (physical, emotional) and exercise, however it usually quickly returns to a normal level. Blood pressure can also increases with age. 

There is no clear dividing line between "normal" blood pressure and increased and/or high blood pressure, hypertension. 
Generally blood pressure is accepted as high when it is consistently greater than 140/90. 
 

What are the SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HYPERTENSION? 

Usually there are no signs and symptoms of hypertension until the condition has been present for a long time - sometimes for many years.  Because of this, many people are not aware that they have hypertension. 

Over time, the continuous high pressure of blood puts extra strain on the blood vessels and the internal organs. Often people do not consult a doctor until after the condition has progressively caused damage to the blood vessels and internal organs such as the heart and kidney.  For this reason hypertension has been referred to as the "silent killer".

People with hypertension are at greater risk of developing medical conditions such as:
Stroke 
Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) 
Enlarged heart 
Heart attack 
Kidney failure 
Heart failure 
Aneurysm - a sac-like widening of a blood vessel, which bulges outwards and can burst, causing a haemorrhage, a heavy or uncontrollable bleeding.
Damage to the retina of the eye
 

What are the possible CAUSES?

In approximately 90% of cases the cause of the hypertension is unknown. 
This is referred to as "essential" hypertension. In the other 10% of cases hypertension is due to factors such as kidney disease or various gland disorders and is called "secondary" hypertension. In these cases, treating the underlying cause will often relieve the hypertension.
 

Who gets HYPERTENSION?

It is difficult to predict who will develop hypertension however there are a number of known risk factors for the condition. 

Known risk factors include: 

Obesity 
Inactive lifestyle 
Heavy alcohol intake 
Smoking 
Use of oral contraceptives 
Occupational, emotional stress 
Family history of hypertension 
Age greater than 60 
Male gender (although females catch up post menopausally)

It is recommended that every adult have his or her blood pressure checked regularly in order to detect and treat hypertension as early as possible.
 

What are the FIRST FEW EASY STEPS TO AVOID or LOWER HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?

Maintaining a healthy bodyweight 
Exercising regularly 
Stopping smoking 
Reducing salt, alcohol and fat intake 
Reducing stress levels 
 


THIS MATERIAL IS PROVIDED FOR YOUR INFORMATION ONLY AND DOES NOT REPLACE QUALIFIED MEDICAL ADVICE. 
THE INFORMATION MAY NOT APPLY TO EVERY PERSON OR ALL SITUATIONS. 
FOR TREATMENT AND MEDICATION OR MORE DETAILED INFORMATION YOU SHOULD CONSULT YOUR MEDICAL PRACTITIONER. 

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