Doctor Stephen Ferguson- Hypertension

Hypertension is commonly known as high blood pressure that affects many men and women today. It is also referred to as hypertensive heart disease caused by the consistent elevated blood pressure in the heart’s blood vessels and muscles when left untreated over time.

Hypertension puts an extra burden on your heart and blood vessels to function normally and inadvertently may cause a heart attack or stroke. It does not stop there; consistent high blood pressure invites other forms of heart related diseases, it affects the kidneys and development of diabetes amongst other

health conditions. If your blood pressure readings are consistently high over time, then you may possibly suffer from hypertension.

How do I know if I suffer from high blood pressure? Simple – get it measured by a health expert. The signs of high blood pressure may not be visibly felt or noticed. Throughout the day, numerous things and situations can affect your blood pressure. A single measurement of your blood pressure with a health expert does not give evidence that you are suffering from high blood pressure. A number of blood pressure measurements are taken over time to indicate consistent high readings.

Blood and oxygen circulation in the heart are vital for the heart to function healthily. The beat of your heart pumps the blood supply in the body, giving it energy, oxygen, nutrients and removes waste for normal bodily function. As blood circulates in the body, it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels. The strength of this pushing is known as your blood pressure. When you are told your blood pressure is too high, it generally means that it puts an extra burden on your heart arteries. Heart arteries are vessels that carry blood away from the heart and circulate to other parts of the body.

Visiting a health expert or practitioner will help you determine the measurement of your blood pressure. A blood pressure monitor is commonly used to help determine if your blood pressure is high. Blood pressure is measured in ‘millimetres of mercury’ abbreviated as ‘mmHg’ and documented as two numbers. An example of a blood pressure reading is ‘130/90’, shown as two numbers or two levels. They are shown as one number on top of the other number. The first number that is to say the top number is your systolic blood pressure. In this example, 130 is your systolic blood pressure. It indicates the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart beats. The second or bottom number is your diastolic blood pressure, in this example 90. It indicates the lowest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart relaxes between your heart beats. Understanding the readings of your blood pressure measurement is best understood by consulting a health expert or practitioner. Apart from using a blood pressure monitor to measure your blood pressure, there are other appropriate tests and medical technology used by health experts to determine the probability or severity of your hypertension.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor as we age. With aging, the heart arteries gradually stiffen and the larger arteries lose its elasticity. At times, those who suffer from consistent elevated blood pressure may experience unexplained headaches. In extreme situations, you may feel chest pains radiating to the neck, back and arms, a feeling of tightness in the chest, difficulty in breathing and unusual tiredness with the activities of daily living. Swelling and tenderness of the ankle and feet may also be noticed. You may also feel your heart is beating fast or erratically. Do not hesitate to get medical attention immediately if you feel unwell with the symptoms mentioned above.

If you suffer from high blood pressure, regular health check-ups are beneficial and extra care should be given to prevent other heart related and health conditions. Hypertension is not a single disease. It is usually related to different heart problems caused by the heart straining under constant pressure. If the condition is left untreated, naming a few, it may lead to other complications such as coronary artery disease also known as atherosclerosis. It is a disease of the heart arteries where plaque and unhealthy fatty deposits builds inside the blood vessels. With the added complication of high blood pressure, it inadvertently puts added stress and weighs down the walls of the heart arteries potentially requiring medical help, constant medication and potential surgery. Heart failure is another complication. Over time the heart’s pumping action to circulate blood gradually weakens. Blood circulates through the heart and body at a slower rate which builds pressure in the heart to supply oxygen and nutrients to vital organs in the body. As a result, heart failure becomes an extended health problem. The heart copes by stretching and expanding or becomes stiff and thickens the heart muscles to hold more blood to circulate in the body.

Hypertensive heart disease is potentially dangerous. Consistent high blood pressure may result in the unfortunate circumstances of death. Take the example of coronary heart disease, consistent high blood pressure causes the blood vessels to narrow over time and inadvertently constricts the blood and oxygen circulation in the heart. Varying degrees of pain is experienced in the chest and causes one to feel afraid, pressure in breathing and panic occurs.

High blood pressure is treatable and can be prevented. It is important to realise that the higher your blood pressure rises on a constant basis and left

untreated, the higher the risk of contracting heart disease or stroke in the long run. It starts with YOU actively engaging in your health welfare to help lower your blood pressure whether we have it now or later. There are many things you can do to lower the risk of suffering from the complications of high blood pressure.

Lifestyle changes are necessary to prevent and control the complications of hypertension. Seeking regular medical advice and health experts guidance helps promote peace of mind for you and your family. It also boosts your confidence by consciously knowing that you are actively engaged in controlling your health and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Review your eating habits and dietary intake. The general rule is to have a healthy diet consisting of low salt intake and unhealthy fatty foods will help you reduce the risk of hypertension in the long run. Exercising regularly, adequate rest and sleep, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing the consumption of alcohol, stress and stop smoking altogether are all key habits to a better lifestyle that prevents hypertension.

Interesting statistics extracted from the “Blood Pressure UK” website seen on 3rd March 2015:

“High blood pressure: facts and figures

* High blood pressure is the main risk factor for stroke and amajor risk factor for heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease. There is also increasing evidence that it is a risk factor for vascular dementia. (1)

* High blood pressure is a level consistently at or above140mmHg and/or 90mmHg. (2)

* Approximately 16 million people in the UK have high blood pressure. (3)

* 30 per cent of women and 32 per cent of men have high blood pressure. (5)

* Up to the age of 64 there are higher rates of men with high blood pressure than women. (5)

* People with high blood pressure are three times more likely to develop heart disease and stroke and twice as likely to die from these as people with a normal blood pressure. (3)

* Approximately 62,000 unnecessary deaths from stroke and heart attacks occur due to poor blood pressure control (4)

* High blood pressure rarely has any symptoms, the only way for people to know if they have the condition is to have their blood pressure measured

* Approximately one third of people with high blood pressure do not know that they have it. (5)

* More than 90 per cent of people with high blood pressure who are receiving treatment are not controlled to 140/90 mmHg. (5)

* Most people with high blood pressure who need to take medications, will need to take two or more to ensure that their blood pressure is lowered down to a target of 140/85mmHg (2)

* Among women, levels of high blood pressure increase as income decreases. (5)

* The risks increase as blood pressure rises, whether you have high blood pressure or a normal blood pressure – between the age of 40 and 70, for every rise of 20mmHg systolic or very 10mmHg diastolic the risk of heart disease and stroke doubles; for the range 115/75 up to 185/115mmHg. (6)”


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