St. Joseph Health System
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High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

What is High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood against the walls of the artery. The higher your blood pressure, the harder your heart must work to pump blood to the rest of your body. Without proper treatment, high blood pressure can lead to many cardiovascular problems, including dilated pumping chamber and heart valve defects.

There are two measurements that determine your blood pressure:

Systolic: The systolic number reflects the pressure against the arterial walls immediately after the heart pumps. This is the top number in the reading. For example, if your blood pressure is 120/80 (described as 120 over 80), the systolic measurement is 120.

Diastolic: The diastolic number represents the pressure against the arterial walls when your heart is at rest briefly, between heart beats. This is the bottom number in the reading. Using the same example, if your blood pressure is 120 over 80, the diastolic measurement is 80.

A normal adult blood pressure measurement is at or below 130 over 85. A reading above 140/90 is considered high, and consultation from your doctor is necessary. 

What are the warning signs and symptoms of High Blood Pressure?

In most cases, High Blood Pressure does not cause symptoms. High blood pressure can be linked to high levels of stress, tension, and nervousness.

It is important to receive routine blood pressure checks from your doctor. High blood pressure can develop over time, and there are many treatment options available to manage the disease. Prompt treatment can reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and congestive heart failure.

What are the treatment options for High Blood Pressure?

Your doctor will discuss with you a variety of ways to control and/or lower your blood pressure.

As with all cardiovascular risk factors, lifestyle changes can be affective ways to lessen your chances of developing cardiovascular disease. To reduce blood pressure, it is essential to:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Stop smoking
  • Maintain a well-balanced diet low in salt, fat and cholesterol
  • Manage stress levels
  • Control your weight
  • Reduce caffeine and other stimulants

In addition to lifestyle changes, high blood pressure can sometimes be treated through medication prescribed by your physician.

For a referral to a St. Joseph's cardiologist call 979.821.7589.

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