Jun 28, 2014
Hypertension or High Blood Pressure.
Incidence: About 40 to 50% of the population of the developed world have raised blood pressure. The older one becomes the more likely one is to have hypertension. Men and women are affected in equal proportion.
High blood pressure, along with obesity, diabetes and cigarette smoking, is a risk factor for stroke, coronary artery disease, heart failure and kidney failure. Therefore, if you are diagnosed as having high blood pressure, it is important that you find a treatment that suits you and that works in keeping your BP in check.
What are the symptoms of raised blood pressure? Most people with a moderately raised blood pressure are unaware of it and it is only discovered on routine examination. Severely raised blood pressure may give rise to headaches and a thumping sensation in the chest and vague feelings that all is not well.
How is hypertension diagnosed? : There are two blood pressures. One is when the heart contracts and this is called systolic blood pressure. The second is when the heart relaxes and this is called the diastolic blood pressure. The systolic blood pressure should be about 100 plus your age millimetres of mercury and the diastolic, the more important reading, should be under 100 millimetres of mercury. Thus in a 50 year old woman a reading of 150/90 would be normal. A reading of 160/100 would be moderately raised and a reading of 190/110 would be considered definite hypertension.
Blood pressure should not be diagnosed on the bases of one reading alone. Often when at the doctors the “White Coat Syndrome” or anxiety at being at the doctors can artificially raise your BP. However if the readings are high over several visits or are high on a home blood pressure monitor, then that is sustained hypertension and will need to be treated.
What are the treatments for blood pressure?
Before going on any medication or drugs you may wish to help yourself by increasing you daily exercise to two mile walking or equivalent. Then loose weight and reduce your salt intake. These measures alone may bring your BP down to safe levels without the need for medication.
Briefly the medications are:
• Diuretics or “water tablets” These make you pass more urine thus reducing blood volume.
• Beta blockers. These slow down the heart and reduce cardiac output.
• Ace Inhibitors. These dilate arteries and thus reduce BP
• Calcium antagonist. These likewise dilate arteries to lower blood pressure.
• Any of the last 3 in combination with a diuretic.
Often it may be necessary to try various blood pressure treatments before finding one that suites you and that does the job. You need to be patient with your doctor. When the best medication or combination of medications is found treatment will usually be for life.
If you are wondering about your blood pressure or the treatment you are on then we are here to help and to support you with your decisions.