What is High Blood Pressure? High Blood Pressure, or Hypertension (HTN), is a medical condition that affects more than 65 million individuals in the United States alone. WHY IS HTN DANGEROUS? If your blood pressure readings are between Since having HTN may not cause symptoms until body 120/80 and 139/89 then this middle range is called organs have been damaged the condition is often “Prehypertension” which suggests that you are at risk referred to as the “silent killer.” The only way to know for developing high blood pressure. A diagnosis of if you have HTN is to have your osteopathic family “Prehypertension” serves as a warning sign that you physician check your blood pressure with a simple and need to make certain healthy lifestyle changes to keep painless blood pressure. your blood pressure from getting worse. Left unchecked or untreated, high blood pressure HOW CAN I HELP PREVENT HIGH can cause significant damage to the body’s organs BLOOD PRESSURE? including the brain, heart, blood vessels, and kidneys Healthy lifestyle changes play an important role. leading to a number of different complications. Being overweight or obese (defined by a Body Mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater) can put a severe strain WHAT ARE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HTN? on the heart and increase your risk of getting high In severe HTN, symptoms may include: headaches, blood pressure. chest pain or tightness, dizziness or light-headedness, palpitations, visual or hearing disturbances, shortness Eat a healthy, balanced diet (a low salt and fat diet of breath, feeling weak and tired, and impotence. including fruits and vegetables), exercise for 30 minutes daily, don’t smoke and avoid alcohol. Avoid WHAT DO BLOOD PRESSURE READINGS MEAN stress, which can make your heart beat faster and your blood vessels contract. AND WHAT FACTORS INCREASE THE RISK OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE? WHAT ARE MY MEDICAL CARE AND TREATMENT When your osteopathic family physician takes your OPTIONS? blood pressure, they take the systolic pressure (the force of blood when the heart is pumping) first High blood pressure, diagnosed early, can be lowered followed by the diastolic pressure (the force of blood and controlled with the appropriate treatment plan when the heart is relaxing between beats). Therefore, and regular follow-up with your osteopathic family if your blood pressure is “120 over 80,” this means that physician to help prevent possible complications such your systolic blood pressure is 120 and your diastolic as those mentioned above. pressure is 80, written as “120/80.” Blood pressure readings less than 120/80 are considered “normal” whereas readings of 140/90 and greater are considered “high”. You have HTN if your reading measures 140/90 or above on at least two occasions, usually taken one to two weeks apart. For more information, please contact your osteopathic family physician and visit www.acofp.org for additional patient related educational materal.
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