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What is blood pressure? 

Blood pressure is the pressure of blood “pushing against the walls of your arteries”. As blood rushes from your heart to other organs, it helps to replenish nutrients and transport oxygen. Too low of a blood pressure could be fatal for these organs and on the flip side, too high of a blood pressure is also fatal. This reading may fluctuate throughout the day.
There are two numbers: -The “top” number is the systolic number. It measures the pressure of the arteries when your heart is beating. -The “bottom” number is the diastolic number. It measures the pressure of the arteries when your heart is relaxing. 
Uncontrolled, elevated blood pressure is known as Hypertension. Longstanding hypertension affects your heart and can cause other health problems. 

What is my goal? 

There are a few guidelines that physicians tend to follow and these are the Cardiology/American Heart Association (C/AHA) and the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood pressure. Depending on your personal medical history and open discussion with your physician, this will guide your treatment plan. 
The Cardiology/AHA 2017 defines hypertension as systolic of 130 mmHg and higher or diastolic of 80 mmHg and higher. The Joint National Committee 2003 defines hypertension as systolic of 140 mmHg and higher or diastolic 90 mmHg and higher. 

What are some signs and symptoms of Hypertension? 

Many patients do not recognize elevated blood pressure as it can be subtle such as intermittent vision change or headaches. Some patient’s remain asymptomatic and are made aware at dental offices or when they use the blood pressure machines at the local grocery store. 

What are some of the complications from having hypertension? 

Some common complications are: 

  • Stiffening of the blood vessels due to being under constant pressure
  • Kidney damage
  • Heart Attack-Stroke

What can you do to prevent this from progressing? 

  • Speak to your healthcare provider 
  • Moderate Exercise/Physical activity for 45 minutes daily for 5 days out of the week
  • Not smoking
  • Limiting salt and processed/packaged foods intake
  • Managing stress
  • Consider following the DASH diet or Mediterranean diet

Despite some of these positive lifestyle changes, some patient’s blood pressure remain elevated. At that time, you may need to start to incorporate blood pressure medications.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please talk with your primary care provider at your next appointment. 


Dr. Hannah Do

MD

Family Medicine Physician