Blood pressure readings are like a fraction with a top number, the systolic, over a bottom number, the diastolic. Systolic blood pressure represents the force of the blood in your arteries when your heart muscle contracts and diastolic blood pressure is your blood pressure between these contractions. Blood pressure readings are ranked as such:
High blood pressure doesn’t necessarily cause symptoms, even though it’s damaging blood vessels and your heart. This silent, internal damage raises your risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, vision loss, metabolic syndrome, and trouble with mental acuity.
If your blood pressure is abnormally high, you’ll be monitored at several consecutive appointments before the doctors diagnose you with hypertension. It’s normal for your blood pressure to vary throughout the day, especially when you’re under stress, such as when you’re at the doctor’s office.
High blood pressure has a strong genetic component. Your blood pressure also naturally rises as you age. Other risk factors include:
Dr. Santos and Dr. Sharma will recommend you stop using all tobacco products and cut back on alcohol. Reduce your sodium intake and up your consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits. Increase your physical activity. Weight loss, if you’re overweight, is another important step.
Lifestyle modifications aren’t always successful in treating hypertension, however. If this is the case, the doctor may prescribe medications to keep your blood pressure under control. Medication doesn’t replace your need to adopt healthy habits. Controlling your blood pressure is important, but eliminating it and medications through lifestyle changes, if possible, is much better.
View prehypertension as a warning sign. You’re at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure, and all its complications, in the future. If your blood pressure is in the range of 120-139/80-89, make extra efforts to change your lifestyle habits to include a healthy, lower sodium diet and more physical activity.
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