Primary care for you and your family, close to home.
Hypertension or high blood pressure describes a condition where the force against the walls of your arteries as the heart pumps blood through the body exceeds normal levels. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 (read “120 over 80”); blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 is called “pre-hypertension”; and blood pressure 140/90 or greater is considered high.
The top number, the systolic blood pressure, corresponds to the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts and pumps blood forward in the arteries. The bottom number, the diastolic pressure, represents the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes after a contraction.
Pressure that exceeds the normal rate places people at risk of heart disease, aneurysms, stroke and kidney damage.
The American Heart Association and other groups have labeled hypertension as a “silent killer” because it often has no symptoms in the earlier stages, yet chronic high blood pressure can lead to coronary heart disease and kidney failure.
Physicians recognize two types of hypertension. Primary or essential hypertension describes high blood pressure with no identifiable cause. This often develops gradually over many years. Secondary hypertension describes high blood pressure issues caused by an underlying condition. These tend to appear suddenly with a root cause such as kidney problems; adrenal gland tumors; congenital defects in blood vessels; medications such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, pain relievers and some prescription drugs; and illegal drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines.
Regardless of your condition, your WellStar physician can detect hypertension easily and provide essential treatment, if necessary.
Most people with hypertension display no signs or symptoms, even when their blood pressure is dangerously high. Some symptoms that could occur include:
All adults should have their blood pressure checked on a routine basis. Also, it is never too late to adopt a healthier lifestyle through fitness and improved diet, managing stress, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol consumption. If you have diabetes, maintaining control of your blood sugar is essential.
You can lower your chances of getting hypertension by:
Blood pressure is measured with an inflatable arm cuff and a pressure-measuring gauge. The blood pressure reading—measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg)—provides two numbers. The top number, the systolic blood pressure, corresponds to the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts and pumps blood forward in the arteries. The bottom number, the diastolic pressure, represents the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes after a contraction.
Blood pressure measures fall into four general categories:
If you have high blood pressure, your Wellstar physician may recommend additional tests including:
If screening tests are abnormal your Wellstar physician will perform further evaluations regarding hypertension and related concerns.
The overall goal of treatment for hypertension is to lower your blood pressure. Your Wellstar physician will usually prescribe a combination of medications and lifestyle changes in order for you to reach your blood pressure goals. Your treatment hinges on adhering to the plan you and your physician devise, particularly making sure you take your medication exactly as prescribed.
In every case, your Wellstar physician will help you weigh the benefits of each treatment approach and make an experienced recommendation for the best outcome. You can feel confident your decision will be based on both your input and the expertise and recommendations of your experienced physician.
Changing your lifestyle, losing weight, quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake can all go a long way toward controlling your blood pressure. When such changes are not enough, your Wellstar physician may recommend medication to lower your blood pressure. Such medicines include:
When the usual medications and lifestyle changes fail to make a difference in blood pressure, your Wellstar physician may prescribe other medications such as:
Wellstar’s world-class, community-based physicians utilize state-of-the-art medical centers and hospitals with the latest technologies and medical resources. Our clinicians are dedicated to:
Treatment for hypertension can often improve symptoms and help you live longer. You and your Wellstar physician can work together to make your life more comfortable, so pay close attention to your body and your post-treatment regiment and keep your doctor updated. As part of your post-treatment care and in addition to maintaining a healthy diet and exercise, you should: