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