High blood pressure results from the tightening of very small arteries called arterioles. Arterioles regulate the blood flow through your body. As these arterioles tighten (or constrict), your heart has to work harder to pump blood through the smaller space, and the pressure inside the vessels grows.
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a condition most often associated with adults. But kids can have high blood pressure too, even as infants.
Blood pressure is the pressure the blood exerts against the blood vessel walls as the heart pumps. The pressure increases when the heart contracts and pushes blood into the vessels and lowers when the heart relaxes, but there's always a certain amount of pressure in the arteries.
Blood pressure is driven by two physical forces — the one from the heart as it pumps blood into the arteries and through the circulatory system, and the other from the arteries as they resist this blood flow
Blood pressure changes from minute to minute and is affected by activity and rest, body temperature, diet, emotional state, posture, and medications.
Measuring Blood Pressure :-
Doctors measure blood pressure with a sphygmomanometer, which has a cuff that's wrapped around the upper arm and pumped up to create pressure. When the cuff is inflated, it compresses a large artery in the arm, stopping the blood flow for a moment. Blood pressure is measured as air is gradually let out of the cuff, which allows blood to flow through the artery again.
The doctor or nurse will also put a stethoscope over an artery to hear the first pulse as the blood flows through — this is the systolic pressure (or the pressure at the peak of each heartbeat). The diastolic pressure (the pressure when the heart is resting between beats) is noted when the sounds disappear.
When a blood pressure reading is taken, the higher number represents the systolic pressure and the lower number represents the diastolic pressure. For example: 120/80 (120 over 80) means that the systolic pressure is 120 and the diastolic pressure is 80.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
Most people who have high blood pressure usually do not have symptoms. In some cases, people with high blood pressure may have a pounding feeling in their head or chest, a feeling of lightheadedness or dizziness, or other signs. If there are no warning signs, people with high blood pressure may go years without knowing they have the condition.
How is high blood pressure diagnosed?
A visit to your doctor is the only way to find out if you have high blood pressure. You should have a general medical check-up that includes a review of your family's medical history. Your doctor will take several blood pressure readings using a device called a sphygmomanometer and run a few routine tests.
Your doctor may also use a device called an ophthalmoscope to look at the blood vessels in your eyes. Doctors can see if these vessels have thickened, narrowed, or burst, which may be a sign of high blood pressure. Your doctor will also use a stethoscope to listen to your heart and the sound of blood flowing through your arteries. In some cases, a chest x-ray and electrocardiogram may be needed.
Can I Prevent Hypertension?
Maintain a normal weight for your height.
Exercise regularly. This can help prevent you from becoming overweight or help you in losing pounds if you need to. Exercise also helps keep your heart and blood vessels strong and healthy.
Eat a healthy diet that includes mostly whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fruits, and vegetables.
Don't smoke. Smoking and high blood pressure are major risk factors for having a heart attack or stroke later in life.
Keep your stress levels in check. It may help to practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises.
Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which is associated with high blood pressure.
What causes high blood pressure?
About 90% to 95% of all high blood pressure cases are what is called primary, or essential hypertension. That means the real cause of the high blood pressure is not known, but a number of factors are associated with the condition.
You are at an increased risk of high blood pressure if you:-
- Have a family history of high blood pressure.
- Are African American. African Americans develop high blood pressure more often than whites, and it tends to happen earlier in life and be more severe.
- Are a man. Women are at an increased risk after age 55.
- Are older than 60. Blood vessels become more brittle with age and are not as flexible.
- Face high levels of stress. In some studies, stress, anger, hostility, and other personality traits have been shown to lead to high blood pressure, but the findings have not always been consistent. Emotional factors most likely add to the risk of high blood pressure for people who also have other risk factors.
- Are overweight or obese.
- Use tobacco products. Smoking damages your blood vessels.
- Use oral contraceptives. Women who smoke and use oral contraceptives greatly increase their risk.
- Eat a diet high in saturated fat.
- Eat a diet high in salt (sodium).
- Drink more than a moderate amount of alcohol. Experts say that moderate intake is an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. One drink is defined as 1½ fluid ounces (fl oz) of 80-proof spirits (such as bourbon, Scotch, vodka, gin, etc.), 1 fl oz of 100-proof spirits, 4 fl oz of wine, or 12 fl oz of beer.
- Are physically inactive.
- Have diabetes.
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