What Is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a build of high pressure/tension in the arteries. These arteries are vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Blood pressure readings are measured in systolic blood pressure and diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure is the top number and equals the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts, whereas the diastolic pressure is the bottom number and measures the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes.
What Is Normal Blood Pressure? A healthy blood pressure is usually below 120/80. When blood pressure is anywhere between 120/80 and 139/89 it is referred to as pre-hypertension. It’s important to have a normal blood pressure, as it can cause health complications that can impact on your life.
What Is Low Blood Pressure? When a blood pressure reading has a systolic pressure of about 90 to 100 it is considered low blood pressure. Whereas when a reading is 140/90 or higher it is classed as high blood pressure.
Complications of high blood pressure can lead to conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease, hardening of the arteries, damage to the eyes and even a stroke. These can lead to permanent damage in the form of atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis and brain damage.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
Many people suffer from hypertension due to the lifestyle they live. Some of the most common causes of high blood pressure are:
• Alcohol & Caffeine – Drinking too much alcohol or having a high caffeine intake can lead to high blood pressure readings
• Salt Intake – High blood pressure readings can be as a result of high salt intake or salt sensitivity. This is most likely to occur in older people, people who suffer from kidney problems or people who are classed as obese.
• Genetic Predisposition – Some people have a genetic predisposition for high blood pressure. People who have one or two parents who suffer from hypertension are most likely to suffer from high blood pressure.
• Abnormality Of The Arteries – It’s not uncommon for people to have an increased resistance in their arteries. The increased stiffness and lack of elasticity in the arteries can develop in individuals who are obese, don’t exercise or have a high salt intake.
• Over The Age Of 65 – People over the age of 65 are more susceptible to high blood pressure.
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How Is Blood Pressure Measured?
Blood pressure is measured using a sphygmomanometer. This contains an air pump and a pressure gauge, that measure the pressure units in the blood; these are called millimetres of mercury.
A general practitioner will place the cuff around the upper arm and inflate the air pump to a pressure that will stop the flow of the blood.
When it deflates the practitioner will listen to the pulsation of the arteries and this is the recorded systolic pressure.
The cuff will continue to decrease and the pressure at which the pulsation stops is recorded as the diastolic pressure.
These will then be combined to give you your overall blood pressure, which means your measure can be compared with the blood pressure range.
High Blood Pressure Symptoms
When you suffer from hypertension, it’s likely you’ll experience some of the signs and symptoms of high blood pressure such as:
• Severe Headaches
• General Confusion
• Chest Pain
• Vision Problems
• Difficulty Breathing
• Irregular Heartbeat
• Blood In The Urine
These are just a few of the most common signs of high blood pressure. Should you experience one or a number of them, then it’s important to go and have your blood pressure taken.
Vaccines for Travelling Abroad
Before travelling abroad you might need to have particular vaccines or take medication to ensure you don’t fall ill while you’re away. We recommend seeking advice from a travel doctor before travelling abroad to any country, to ensure you’re fully protected. Some of the most common and popular seek travel vaccinations for are:
With all medication and vaccinations available onsite at our London travel clinic, you’ll be able to access the services you need on the same day as your initial appointment. Where ever you’re travelling to our travel advice and competitive rates will ensure you’re protected from the moment you board the plane to the moment you arrive home. When you’re travelling abroad be sure to book an appointment with Broadgate GP or alternatively visit our walk-in travel clinic in London. We offer a range of travel service covering everything from medication to advice and so much more.
Effects of High Blood Pressure
Hypertension is commonly known as a silent killer as it can lead to multiple health complications that can be life threatening. High blood pressure can quietly damage a number of different parts in your body. Some of the effects it can have are:
- Arterial Damage – Damaged and narrowed arteries can damage the cells of your arteries inner linings. This causes them to be less elasticated which in turn limits the blood flow. Suffering from constant high blood pressure can lead to an aneurysm forming.
- Damage To Your Heart – Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage your heart in a number of ways, which can lead to coronary heart disease, enlarged left heart and in worst case scenarios heart failure.
- Brain Damage – Brain damage can come in many forms and can lead to things such as transient ischemic attacks, strokes, dementia and mild cognitive impairment.
- Kidney Problems – The kidney filters excess fluid and waste from your blood, so when your blood vessels are unhealthy this is more difficult to do. Problems can then occur such as kidney failure, kidney scarring or possibly even kidney artery aneurysm.
Suffering from High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy
High blood pressure in pregnancy, isn’t something to be necessarily worried about and there are many different types of hypertension a pregnant woman can suffer from. Such as:
- Gestational Hypertension – This usually develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy and can lead to preeclampsia developing
- Chronic Hypertension – Chronic hypertension typically develops before you’re 20 weeks pregnant. Because this doesn’t show any symptoms it can be difficult to determine when it started.
- Chronis Hypertension & Superimposed Preeclampsia – This develops when women with chronic high blood pressure, it leads to higher blood pressure and other health complications during pregnancy.
- Preeclampsia – Sometimes chronic hypertension or gestational hypertension leads to preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ systems, usually after 20 weeks of pregnancy. When left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious and even fatal complications for both the mother and baby.
Most women who are pregnant are likely to suffer from high blood pressure. Doctors or nurses will regularly carry out blood pressure checks during your pregnancy.
How to Reduce High Blood Pressure
Hypertension is usually easy to treat and is most commonly done through high blood pressure medication. Using high blood pressure tablets and lifestyle changes can help you learn how to control high blood pressure. Some of the most common hypertension medication to be prescribed is:
• ACE Inhibitors
• Angiotensin-2 Receptor Blockers (ARBs)
• Calcium Channel Blockers
• Renin Inhibitors
In addition to using hypertension tablets, there a number of lifestyle changes that can be used to help prevent and lower blood pressure. Carrying out the following can be successful in lowering blood pressure:
• Reduce the amount of salt in your diet
• Cut back on alcohol intake
• Losing weight especially if you’re classed as overweight or obese
• Regular exercise
• Cutting down on caffeine
• Stopping smoking
• Ensuring at least six hours sleep a night
How Do I Check My Blood Pressure?
If you’re worried you might be suffering from hypertension, then it’s important to visit your local healthcare facility to get your blood pressure checked. Here at Broadgate GP, we offer hypertension appointments.