Hypertension is a common problem. Here is an introduction.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is a vital part of our life. Blood pressure ensures that an adequate supply of oxygen and nutrients is maintained throughout our entire body. This pressure is generated primarily by the heart and is usually measured as two numbers, a higher number called the systolic blood pressure and a lower number termed the diastolic blood pressure. The systolic blood pressure is the peak concentration generated by the contraction of the heart. The diastolic blood pressure represents the intravascular base pressure.
What is hypertension?
Hypertension is a situation where a person has blood pressure that is higher than is considered healthy. It is natural for people to have higher blood pressure measures when standing and when active. When we talk about hypertension we mean that the blood pressure is above what is considered healthy for people sitting and rested. A large part of the population will develop hypertension at some point in their lives and will require treatment. The damage caused by untreated long-standing hypertension can be serious indeed.
The incidence of hypertension rises with age. Hypertension is defined as having systolic blood pressure above 140 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure above 90. These values also reflect treatment goals 130/90 for most people and 125/90 for diabetics with evidence of end-organ damage. Ranges between 130 and 140 are often termed “prehypertension” and having only systolic hypertension (i.e. 150/80 for example) is termed “isolated systolic hypertension”. Hypertension is diagnosed only when two separate measures demonstrate elevated values and provided these were taken when the person was at rest and not under any significant stress.