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What is hypertension?

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a chronic and potentially serious condition that occurs when the pressure inside the blood vessels exceeds the normal limit. As blood pumps through the veins, it exerts pressure on the walls of the arteries with every pump. When that pressure is too high, it can cause damage not only to the vessels but organs like the heart and kidneys as well. It can also increase your risk for serious events like stroke or heart attack. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (MM Hg). Generally speaking, pressure over 120/80 mmHg are considered high. However, athletes and older men and women can have slightly higher pressures and still be healthy

What symptoms are connected to hypertension?

High blood pressure often does not present symptoms and, in many cases, it isn’t until an annual screening reveals a problem that a person will know they have elevated blood pressure. Left untreated, long-term hypertension can create symptoms and cardiovascular health issues. Other complications which can occur with hypertension include:

  • An enlarged heart
  • A weakened heart
  • A narrowing of the blood vessels
  • Blood vessels in the eyes may bleed or rupture
  • Aneurysms, or atypical bulges in the wall of the artery

Treatment is easier and more effective when administered during the early stages of a disease. Regular health screenings are an important part of regulating blood pressure levels and hypertension. If the patient has a family history of hypertension, it is highly recommended that they have regular screenings. All adults from the age of 18 should have a blood pressure reading every two years. Those over 40 should request the doctor to perform a blood pressure reading every year.

How is high blood pressure treated?

High blood pressure can be treated with medication, but many patients can also lower their blood pressure naturally by making some key lifestyle choices, including limiting sodium intake and increasing potassium and vitamin D intake, losing excess weight, quitting smoking, and being more physically active. Routine monitoring is also important.