High Blood Pressure & Heart Disease

February is heart health month. Today, I want to address the relationship between high blood pressure and heart disease.

High blood pressure, also known as HBP or hypertension, is a widely misunderstood. We often assume it affects those who are older in age, type-A, tense or aggressive. But the truth is, HBP can affect individuals at any age and you can be the most relaxed, calm person and still suffer from HBP.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that people who have moderate to slightly elevated blood pressure levels at age 18 were up to two to four times more likely to develop a significant risk of heart disease by age 50.

The reality is that HBP is a condition that makes the heart work harder than normal. And left untreated, it scars and damages your arteries and can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, eye damage, heart failure and fatty buildups in the arteries, called atherosclerosis.

Understanding Your Numbers

Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers and a written as a ratio.

Systolic: The top number in the ratio, which is also the higher of the two, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats.

Diastolic: The bottom number in the ratio, which is also the lower of the two, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats.

Your blood pressure rises with each heartbeat and falls when your heart relaxes between beats. While it can change from minute to minute with changes in posture, exercise, stress or sleep, it should normally be less than 120/80 mm Hg for individuals age 20 or over.

Here’s how the numbers are evaluated:

Normal: Less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic

Pre-hypertension: 120-139 systolic or 80-89 diastolic

Hypertension: 140 or higher systolic or 90 or higher diastolic

Hypertensive Crisis: higher than 180 or higher than 110 diastolic

High blood pressure increases a person’s risk of heart disease, no matter when they develop it. That’s why doctors monitor blood pressure so carefully.

What’s the Bottom Line?

High blood pressure is considered a silent killer. It sneaks up on you, carries no symptoms and can put you at risk for heart disease.

Because blood pressure can fluctuate, consider investing in a home blood pressure monitor to record your numbers regularly. Doing so can help your healthcare provider determine whether you really have high blood pressure and, if you do, whether your treatment plan is working. Make blood pressure control your goal!

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Learn more at http://www.heart.org
Content source: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention

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