Blood Pressure
Last Edited: April 10th, 2012

Coupons for Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common topic in health circles, but many people are unaware of what it is. Blood pressure is a measurement of the force that is exerted on the blood capillaries walls. High blood pressure puts people at risk because the heart has to work harder. Hypertension also leads to hardening of the arteries, or arteriosclerosis. These factors are primary causes of heart attack, stroke and heart failure. High blood pressure increases the risk of a number of diseases and most doctors have several treatment approaches depending on the severity.

Normal Blood Pressure

Blood pressures are composed of two numbers. The systolic number is the top number, and the diastolic number is the bottom one. The systolic number is the maximum reading and occurs during the pump phase of a heartbeat. The diastolic reading is the minimum number and occurs when the heart is at rest. The following table includes a list of normal and high blood pressures.

Normal: less than 120 over 80
Pre-hypertension: 120 – 139 over 80 – 89
Stage 1 High Blood Pressure: 140 – 159 over 90 – 99
Stage 2 High Blood Pressure: 160 and higher over 100 and higher

High Blood Pressure Causes

No one knows the exact causes for hypertension, but there are a number of factors that are found in most individuals with high blood pressure. Lifestyle choices are largely responsible for high blood pressure, and the following activities are considered risk factors.

  • smoking
  • overweight or obese
  • sedentary lifestyles and physical inactivity
  • high salt intake
  • high alcohol intake

Genetics also play a role in high blood pressure, and many people have a family history of hypertension. This is often only a predisposition, and diet and lifestyle choices also play a role in the development of stage 1 or state 2 high blood pressure.

Essential Hypertension

Essential hypertension is a type of high blood pressure in which doctors cannot determine the causes. It is estimated that nearly 95 percent of high blood pressure cases are essential ones. High blood pressure has a number of characteristics, and it tends to run in families, is more common in men than women, and is affected by age and race. Blacks are more than twice as likely to have hypertension as whites.

Secondary Hypertension

Secondary hypertension has an identifiable cause. Kidney disease is often responsible for secondary hypertension. Birth control pills and other medications can also cause a spike in blood pressure and lead to secondary hypertension.

High Blood Pressure Treatment

Most physicians recommend a comprehensive treatment program. Diet and lifestyle choices are one factor, and there are several things that most physicians encourage. Walking, running and swimming are great cardio activities and should be done on a regular basis. Some people enjoy walking and slowly improve their distance and exertion levels. Changing diets can also lower blood pressure. Salty foods are one item that should be eliminated, and doctors also recommend cutting out fatty foods. Prescription mediation is another treatment component, and several formulations are available.