Know Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is called hypertension. Hypertension does not mean emotional tension. What it does mean is that the pressure, or tension, in your blood vessels is too high.

"Bellissima" by Judy Lodwick, Australia

High blood pressure is a silent killer. There are no symptoms until the pressure is too high, or it causes damage to vital organs, like the heart or kidneys. Everyone needs some blood pressure in their arteries. When your heart beats it pumps blood through the arteries (or pipes) to bring nourishment to the tissues. The force of the blood against the walls of the arteries is called the blood pressure. The systolic pressure occurs after the heartbeat and is the higher reading. The lower pressure, or diastolic pressure, is the pressure in the arteries in-between heartbeats. If the arteries or pipes become narrowed or clogged, then the heart has to pump harder to deliver the blood to the tissues, and the pressure in the arteries goes up. If the pressure in your arteries is 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) or more, and remains at that level, you have high blood pressure (hypertension).

What Are the Consequences of Uncontrolled Hypertension?
Hypertension can cause strokes, heart attacks, heart and kidney failure.

How Can We Prevent Hypertension?
 • Weight reduction
 • Eating a low sodium diet
 • Minimizing alcohol intake
 • Regular exercise

If these lifestyle changes do not control or prevent hypertension, then drug therapy is necessary.

Control of other risk factors that interact with blood pressure is also important. Smoking, high cholesterol, and diabetes accelerate the damage by high blood pressure on the heart and blood vessels. Therefore, it is important to manage and control all of these factors.

Remember, high blood pressure may cause no symptoms. You need to have your blood pressure measured at least once per year. Control of high blood pressure can add years to a happy life!
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© 2007 World Hypertension League. Website designed and maintained by Hampton Medical Conferences Ltd.