High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is measured in numbers based on the systolic and diastolic pressures of the blood. Systolic pressure measures the force in the arteries when the heart beats, while the diastolic pressure measures this force when the heart is at rest or relaxed. These measurements are shown in sequence from top to bottom – the systolic pressure measurement on top and the diastolic pressure measurement at the bottom.
A small, portable instrument called a blood pressure cuff or sphygmomanometer is used to measure blood pressure. This consists of an air pump, a pressure gauge, and a rubber cuff and measures the blood pressure in units called millimeters of mercury. If your reading is 110/70, you don’t have to worry because it is a healthy blood pressure. But if it is greater than or equal to 140 mm Hg systolic pressure or greater than or equal to 90 mm Hg diastolic pressure, it means you have a high blood pressure, and you should seek medical attention.
What causes hypertension? For more than 90% of people with high blood pressure, the cause is unidentifiable. This is referred to as primary or essential hypertension. A secondary hypertension, on the other hand, has underlying causes that include diseases in the arteries, chronic kidney diseases, chronic alcohol abuse, hormonal disturbances and preeclampsia. Certain medications such as over-the-counter pain relievers and decongestants can cause secondary hypertension.
Many people do not take high blood pressure seriously. But little do they know that this is dangerous, because it causes the heart to work extra hard. You should be aware that the more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure will be. And once this becomes uncontrollable, you increase your risk of serious health problems such as heart attacks and stroke. So, why let this happen if you can do something about it? Only a simple test is needed to detect high blood pressure. Once you know your condition, work with your doctors to control it.
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