Hypertension and Blood Pressure Monitoring:
Blood pressure is the force exerted by the blood against the blood vessel wall. A typical normal blood pressure is 128/72. The top number is called the systolic pressure; the lower number is the diastolic pressure. In general, hypertension (high blood pressure) is a systolic blood pressure of 140 or greater and/or a diastolic blood pressure of 90 or greater.
Untreated hypertension can lead to stroke, blood vessel and heart diseases (including heart attack), liver disease, and kidney dysfunction.
WHAT CAUSES HYPERTENSION? Most people with hypertension (90-95 percent) have "essential hypertension," which means that the precise cause cannot be determined. Some factors contributing to hypertension include genetic patterns, being overweight, having a high salt diet and a lack of exercise or physical activity.
HOW DOES HAVING HYPERTENSION AFFECT MY LIFE? You may be healthy but are at increased risk of future heart or vascular disease. You can have a normal life despite having hypertension. Changes in you diet and exercise patterns may be needed for prevention. If you are a smoker, you will need to quit. Other risk factors should be monitored, especially blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
HOW IS HYPERTENSION TREATED? Treatment depends on severity (how high is the pressure) and degree of risk for future cardiovascular disease. Lifestyle change may be helpful but treatment may be required in many situations. Treatment decisions are based on the source of the hypertension.
Usually, your doctor will begin treatment by asking you to make lifestyle changes. These include losing weight if you are overweight, limiting alcohol intake, increasing aerobic activity, reducing and managing stress, and reducing sodium intake to no more than 2.4 grams of sodium daily. Other lifestyle changes include reducing the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet; maintaining an adequate intake of dietary potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
Weight reduction of as few as ten pounds can reduce blood pressure. Reducing sodium intake has other benefits as well as helping to reduce blood pressure.
Drug treatment for hypertension lowers blood pressure and has proven to prevent cardiovascular disease. Currently, there are many safe and effective drugs available. Your physician will design a program tailored to meet your individual needs.
Your physician may prescribe a combination of medicines. You should follow your doctor's instructions exactly and never skip your medicine. Follow-up visits with your doctor will enable your treatment to be fine-tuned.
Routine clinic/office blood pressure checks may not accurately reflect an individual’s average readings, so they may not be relied on to indicate hypertension or future risk for cardiovascular disease. Non-invasive, 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring measures blood pressure and heart rate during normal daily activity. The technology is used to reveal average blood pressure and is particularly effective in the evaluation of many hypertensive patients. A cuff is placed on the patient’s arm and attached to a small recorder worn by the patient for 24 hours (even when sleeping). At preset intervals, the cuff automatically inflates and the blood pressure is recorded. The doctor uses these recordings to evaluate hourly, daytime, nighttime averages for systolic giving the most accurate diagnosis.
This measurement system provides valuable information for:
HOME BLOOD PRESUURE MONITORING
Routine clinic/office blood pressure checks may not accurately reflect an individual’s average readings, so they may not be relied on to indicate hypertension or future risk for cardiovascular disease.
Home blood pressure monitoring allows the patient to measure blood pressure at home. Patients will log four readings at the same time each day for seven consecutive days. Blood pressure readings will be taken and recorded:
This method calculates day time, awake average pressures; sleep measurements are not recorded.
Home blood pressure monitoring require a prescription from your physician. Appointments can be scheduled Monday through Friday, from 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM by calling 201-894-3690.