What causes high blood pressure?
While the cause of high blood pressure in most people remains unclear, a variety of conditions - such as getting little or no exercise, poor diet, obesity, older age and genetics - can lead to hypertension.
What are systolic and diastolic blood pressures?
The blood pressure reading is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and is written as systolic pressure the force of the blood against the artery walls as your heart beats over diastolic pressure the blood pressure between heartbeats. For example, a blood pressure reading is written as 120/80mmHg, or 120 over 80. The systolic pressure is 120 and the diastolic pressure is 80.
What is the treatment for high blood pressure?
High blood pressure treatment usually involves making lifestyle changes and, if necessary, drug therapy.Lifestyle changes for high blood pressure include:
- Losing weight
- Stopping smoking
- Eating a healthy diet, such as the DASH diet
- Reducing the amount of salt in your diet
- Regular aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking)
- Limiting alcohol consumption
High blood pressure drugs include angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, diuretics, beta blockers and calcium channel blockers. What health problems are associated with high blood pressure?
Several potentially serious health conditions are linked to high blood pressure, including:
What type of diet should I follow if I have high blood pressure?
- Atherosclerosis: a disease of the arteries caused by a build-up of plaque, or fatty material, on the inside walls of the blood vessels.
- Hypertension contributes to this build-up by putting added stress and force on the artery walls.
- Heart disease: heart failure (the heart can not adequately pump blood), ischemic heart disease (the heart tissue does not get enough blood), and hypertensive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart) are all associated with high blood pressure.
- Kidney disease: hypertension can damage the blood vessels and filters in the kidneys, so that the kidneys cannot excrete waste properly.
- Stroke: hypertension can lead to stroke, either by contributing to the process of atherosclerosis (which can lead to blockages and or clots), or by weakening the blood vessel wall and causing it to rupture.
- Eye disease: hypertension can damage the very small blood vessels in the retina.
A healthy diet, such as the Dash (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, is very effective at lowering high blood pressure. The Dash diet calls for a certain number of daily servings from various food groups, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
The following steps can also help:
When should I seek medical advice about high blood pressure?
- Eating more fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods.
- Eating less of foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol, such as fried foods.
- Eating more wholegrain products, fish, poultry and nuts
- Eating less red meat and sweets.
- Eating foods that are high in magnesium, potassium, and calcium
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, its important to see your doctor on a regular basis. He or she can answer your questions during these visits.
However, there may be other times when you may need to speak to your doctor or specialist nurse. For instance:
- If you aren’t responding to the prescribed treatment and your blood pressure is still high.
- If you are having any side effects from the blood pressure medication. If this happens, your doctor may wish to adjust the dosage or commence you on another medication.