What is hypertension?
The circulation of blood must exercise a certain pressure to be able to circulate in the smallest blood vessels. Hypertension is the term used when the pressure in the arteries is constantly higher than the normal average blood pressure.
Arterial hypertension usually does not cause any symptoms or pain. However if a diagnosis is not made in time and appropriate treatment started, this disorder may have irrevocable consequences on the vital organs over the course of the years.
For that reason it is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly by your doctor.
What are the dangers of hypertension?
Cardiovascular disorders are one of the most frequent health problems. Untreated hypertension can cause significant damage to a number of vital organs.
COMPLICATIONS OF HYPERTENSION:
Disorders to the coronary arteries, Myocardial infarction (heart-attack), heart insufficiency
Kidney disorders (nephropathy), kidney impairment
Claudicatio intermittens, circulatory insufficiency (peripheral vascular disease)
Eye diseases (retinopathy)
The risk of hypertension increases when there are other disorders such as diabetes or in the case of risk factors such as smoking and obesity!
These disorders may be serious. In order to prevent them, the doctor may find it useful to prescribe medicines to lower the blood pressure.
How do I know whether I am suffering from hypertension?
The only way to know whether you have high blood pressure is to have it measured. The values measured (the peak pressure or systolic blood pressure, the lowest pressure or diastolic pressure) indicate that your arterial blood pressure is normal or that medical intervention by a doctor is required. The peak pressure is measured at the moment the heart contracts (systole) to push the blood to the blood vessels in the body; the lowest pressure corresponds with the moment between two heartbeats when the heart is relaxed (diastole), which allows it to refill with blood.
The target values:
According to the ESH/ESC 2007* guidelines you should reach the following target values:
* 2003 ESH/ESC hypertension guidelines. J. Hypertension 2003; 21:1011-1053.
* 2007 ESH/ESC Guidelines for the management of arterial hypertension. Eur Heart J 2007; 28:1462-1536.
Hypertension is diagnosed if the peak pressure (systolic pressure) is equal or greater than 140 mmHg (130mmHg if suffering from diabetes) or if the lowest pressure (diastolic blood pressure) is equal or higher than 90mmHg (80 mmHg if suffering from diabetes).
SYSTOLIC BLOOD PRESSURE
Pressure measured when the heart pushes the blood to the blood vessels in the body (contraction phase)
DIASTOLIC BLOOD PRESSURE
Pressure measured when the heart fills with blood (relaxation phase)
What can I do about hypertension myself?
Because hypertension is usually a permanent disorder, it is advisable to consult your doctor who will decide whether treatment with medicines should be initiated. It is important to follow this treatment as prescribed by your doctor and not to interrupt or stop it without first consulting your doctor as this could result in an increase in your blood pressure resulting in an increased cardiovascular risk to your health.
As a patient you may also influence the number of risk factors by having a healthier lifestyle.
lose weight (and stabilising the weight)
no excessive use of alcohol
limit the use of salt
eat more fruit and vegetables and less food containing saturated fats