hypertension

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                                       HYPERTENSION



High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the most common of all cardiovascular diseases. It is the
leading cause of stroke and a major cause of heart attack.

Blood pressure refers to the force of blood pushing against artery walls as it flows through your body.
Like air in a tyre, blood fills arteries to a certain capacity. Just as too much air pressure can damage a
tire, too much blood pressure threatens healthy arteries.



There are two kinds of blood pressure.

    1. Systolic Pressure is the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats and fills them with
       blood.
    2. Diastolic Pressure is the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats.



The first number in your blood pressure reading measures systolic pressure. The second number
measures diastolic pressure.

  Normal blood pressure is 120/80 in a healthy adult.

   If your blood pressure was as high as 140/90 on at least two occasions you are said to have
high blood pressure. If the levels remain high, your doctor will probably begin treatment.

  If your blood pressure reading is as high as 200/120, you need treatment immediately.

Imagine a balloon being filled with air continuously, weakening the rubber and finally causing the
balloon to burst. Similarly, consistently high blood pressure forces the heart to work far beyond its
capacity and cause the following health hazards:



                                 Injury to blood vessels

                                 Damage to the brain

                                 Damage and failure of kidneys

                                 Optical nerve damage

                                 Retinal hemorrhage

                                 Heart attack

                                 Stroke
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Risk Factors

       Family history of high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes
       Pregnancy, birth control pills or medication that constrict blood vessels
       Age of 60 or above
       Obesity
       Inactive lifestyle
       Excessive consumption of alcohol
       Smoking
       Diet high in fat and/or sodium

    Most of the risk factors are within your control and there is much you can do to reduce your
    risk for hypertension !



Symptoms

In the vast majority of cases, there are no clear warning signs of hypertension (high blood pressure). If
symptoms do occur, they may include:

       Headaches
       Chest pain or tightness
       Nosebleeds
       Numbness and tingling
       Excessive perspiration
       Muscle cramps
       Weakness and palpitations



Diagnosis

Your doctor will not diagnose you with hypertension based on just one reading of your blood
pressure. A minimum of three high blood pressure readings taken at different times of the day, over a
period of a week to ten days (on three non-consecutive days) is necessary to make a diagnosis of
hypertension.



Treatment

Fortunately, high blood pressure can be controlled effectively. The first step is early detection. Have
your blood pressure checked regularly Hypertension is a "the silent killer" as it rarely exhibits
symptoms even as it inflicts serious damage on the body.

Depending on how high your blood pressure is, your doctor will first recommend:

       Positive lifestyle changes such as a diet and exercise program, smoking cessation, to help
    lower your blood pressure. If your blood pressure still stays high, it may be time for medication.
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        Medications that are used to treat hypertension are called antihypertensive drugs. There are
    many different types of medication available to reduce high blood pressure. Some get rid of
    excess fluid and sodium, while others relax tight blood vessels. Others prevent blood vessels from
    constricting and narrowing. Your doctor will choose the antihypertensive medication that is best
    for you given your age, medical history, etc.




    Remember! Medication that someone else is taking for hypertension may not be the right
    medication for you, or may not be the dosage that you require. Hence, never self-medicate!



Because there is no known cure for hypertension, treatment is generally a life-long process. To
maintain your blood pressure, it is important to stay on your medication until your doctor asks you to
stop.

				
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