Hypertension or high blood pressure refers to the condition in which the blood is pumped around the body at too high a pressure.
Blood Pressure (BP) is described by two numbers, for example, if your BP is 120/80, the systolic BP is 120 mmHg and the diastolic BP is 80 mmHg.
You have hypertension if your systolic BP is persistently 140 mmHg or more, or your diastolic BP is 90 mmHg or more, or both (mmHg = millimetres of mercury, a measure of pressure). There are certain things to take note of when measuring your blood pressure, be it at the Doctors’ office or at home with an automatic BP machine:
Causes & risk factors
In 95% of cases, the cause of hypertension is unknown. In 5% of cases, hypertension may be due to causes such as kidney disease, narrowing of certain blood vessels or hormonal imbalance. Certain risk factors increase the chance of developing hypertension. These include obesity and diabetes.
Signs & symptoms
Hypertension is often called the silent killer. This is because, even when severe, it may not give rise to any symptoms.
Occasionally, you may have headaches or giddiness when the hypertension is severe. However, these symptoms are not specific to hypertension; they are also present in other diseases.
Sometimes, hypertension is only discovered when complications set in, for example, a stroke or heart attack.
Hypertension increases the risk of developing atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries). If untreated or inadequately treated, hypertension can cause the following problems:
The risk of suffering from the complications of hypertension is increased if you:
Screening & diagnosis
If you are diagnosed with hypertension, your doctor will:
Monitor your blood pressure
Checking your blood pressure at home helps you keep a closer watch on your blood pressure and manage your hypertension better. There are many different types of home blood pressure monitors available. Your doctor will help you choose one that is best for you and advise you on how to use it.
Go for regular check-ups
Take your antihypertensive medication as prescribed by your doctor The most commonly used drugs belong to these 5 main groups:
If you are on antihypertensive drugs, note the following:
Lead a Healthy Lifestyle
Control your weight to keep your BMI less than 23kg/m2 but not below 18.5kg/m2. Reducing your excess weight will help to lower your BP levels.
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