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St. Maarten Medical Center
Every time the human heart beats, it pumps blood to the whole body through the arteries. Hypertension, also
called high blood pressure, is a condition in which the arteries have persistently elevated blood pressure.
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the blood vessel walls. The higher the pressure, the
harder the heart has to pump.
The normal level for blood pressure is between 110/70mm/Hg and 140/80mm/Hg. The top number in the reading
represent the systolic measurement (peak pressure in the arteries) and the bottom number represents
diastolic measurement (minimum pressure in the arteries).
The exact cause of hypertension is usually unknown, though there are several factors that have been highly associated with the condition, such as:
It is not unusual that a person with hypertension present no symptoms of the condition. For this reason, is advisable to undergo periodic blood pressure screenings when no symptoms are present., especially when no symptoms are present, especially when you belong to a risk category like diabetes mellitus or chronic kidney disease.
Extreme high blood pressure may lead to some symptoms, however and these include:
A diagnosis of hypertension is made by a health professional who would measure the blood pressure using a
device called a sphygmomanometer: a device with an arm cuff, dial, pump and valve.
Someone with a pressure reading greater than 140/90mg/dl is considered to have hypertension.
It is important to know that one time pressure measurement does not mean you have hypertension. Your health
professional will usually conduct a physical exam and will ask for your and your family history medical
history to know if you have any risk factors such as smoking, high cholesterol or diabetes. Often a 24 hour
ambulatory blood pressure measurement will be done.
It is important to treat hypertension to reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart failure.
The main aim of treatment is to lower blood pressure to less than 140/90. For some groups of people, this may
have to be lower depending on if they have diabetes or a chronic kidney disease.
High blood pressure may be treated with the use of medications, lifestyle changes or a combination of the
two. In most cases more than one type of medication is necessary to control the blood pressure adequately.
Hypertension can best be prevented by having a healthy diet and exercise as a key component in your
lifestyle. Blood pressures tends to rise with age, but by following a healthy lifestyle, you can prevent
this rise in blood pressure.
It is important to screen, diagnose, treat and control hypertension in its earliest stages.
Here are some practical ways to avoid hypertension: