High blood pressure is a condition in which the force of the blood against the artery walls is too high. It can cause serious health complications and even death if not treated. Having high blood pressure can put you at risk for stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and other medical issues. That is why it is so important to be aware of your own blood pressure and to take steps to lower it if it is too high.
Measuring Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers. The first number is the systolic pressure, which is the highest pressure when the heart muscle contracts and pumps blood. The second number is the diastolic pressure, which is the lowest pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. A normal blood pressure reading is considered to be below 120/80 mmHg. High blood pressure is defined as a reading of 140/90 mmHg or higher.
Causes of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can be caused by many things, including smoking, being overweight, having a family history of high blood pressure, drinking too much alcohol, not eating enough fruits and vegetables, and leading a sedentary lifestyle. Other factors that can contribute to high blood pressure include age, race, and gender. Stress, certain medications, and certain chronic medical conditions can also cause high blood pressure.
Lifestyle Changes to Lower Blood Pressure
Making lifestyle changes can help to lower high blood pressure. These changes include quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet that is low in salt, exercising regularly, and managing stress. Eating a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help to lower blood pressure, as can reducing caffeine and alcohol intake.
Medical Treatment for High Blood Pressure
If lifestyle changes alone are not enough to lower your blood pressure, your doctor may recommend medication. The most common types of medication used to treat high blood pressure are diuretics, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and calcium channel blockers. These medications work by helping to reduce the amount of blood flowing through your arteries. They also help to reduce the force of the blood against the artery walls.
High blood pressure can be a serious health issue and can lead to heart attack, stroke, and other medical complications. It is important to be aware of your own blood pressure and to take steps to lower it if it is too high. Making lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet can help to lower your blood pressure. If these changes are not enough, your doctor may recommend medication to help you control your blood pressure. With proper treatment, high blood pressure can be managed and the risk of serious medical complications can be reduced.