Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. As your blood circulates, it exerts pressure on the walls of your blood vessels. That pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (or mmHg). Measurements include two numbers: The first or top number is the pressure of your blood when your heart is pumping (called systolic pressure) and the second is the pressure exerted when your heart rests between beats (diastolic pressure). Normal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80 mmHg, although this measurement can vary to some degree based on age and other factors. High blood pressure is pressure that’s 140/90 mmHg or higher. When blood pressure is higher than normal, it can cause serious medical problems, increasing your risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, vision loss, and even dementia.
Many factors can contribute to hypertension, including:
Certain medications can increase the risk of developing hypertension, as well as some medical conditions, like diabetes, high cholesterol, and thyroid disease. Sometimes, hypertension occurs as a symptom or sign of another disease. In those cases, it’s referred to as secondary hypertension.
High blood pressure typically causes no noticeable symptoms, which means it can be causing organ damage and increasing your risks for heart attack and stroke without you knowing it. The only way to know if you have hypertension is to have your blood pressure measured on a regular basis. Fortunately, it only takes a few moments to have your pressure measured. Some people who have high blood pressure or who have risk factors for hypertension can use blood pressure cuffs at home. Dr. McKenzie can help you decide if home monitoring could be beneficial for your health.
Some very mild cases of hypertension may be managed with lifestyle changes such as losing excess weight, quitting smoking, being more physically active, and eating a healthier diet. In most cases, though, you’ll probably need to take medication on a regular basis to keep your blood pressure at a normal level. Dr. McKenzie will develop a treatment plan specifically for you, and regular office visits will help ensure your treatment remains optimized for your needs.
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