Obesity, Smoking, High salt diet, lack of exercise, alcohol consumption, irregular sleep patterns and a family history of High BP increases risks for high blood pressure.
Q:WHAT IS BLOOD PRESSURE?
Dr:The heart is constantly pumping blood to the whole of the body. The force with which the heart pumps blood is what we call Blood Pressure. When we measure blood pressure, we are factoring in two types of BP – Systolic Pressure and Diastolic Pressure. Systolic Pressure is the force exerted by the blood on the walls of the artery while the heart beats. Diastolic Pressure is the force exerted between heart beats.
Q:WHAT IS CONSIDERED NORMAL BLOOD PRESSURE?
Dr:Normal blood pressure readings are a Systolic Pressure less than 120mmHg and a Diastolic Pressure that is less than 80mmHg. When the Systolic Pressure is between 120 – 129 mmHg but Diastolic pressure is less than 80mmHg, the blood pressure is considered Elevated. Both numbers are important while measuring blood pressure. However, for those aged 50 and above, the Systolic Pressure reading is more important. Isolated Systolic Hypertension is a condition prevalent amongst the elderly where the Diastolic Pressure is normal (less than 80mmHg), but the Systolic Pressure is more than 130mmHg.
Q:WHAT READINGS ARE INTERPRETED AS HYPERTENSION OR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?
Dr:When Systolic Pressure is between 130 – 139mmHg or Diastolic Pressure is between 80 – 89mmHg it is considered Stage 1 Hypertension. When the Systolic Pressure exceeds 140mmHg or the Diastolic Pressure is more than 90mmHg, this is called Stage 2 Hypertension.
Q:HOW IS HYPERTENSION DIAGNOSED?
Dr:One reading of high Systolic or Diastolic values is not enough to conclude a person has High Blood Pressure. The doctor will recommend two to three readings taken on different dates at home and at the hospital, before giving a Hypertension Diagnosis. The doctor may then prescribe a few other tests to check for any other underlying conditions that may be causing the high blood pressure. These tests might include a urine analysis, a cholesterol test, an ECG, and an Echocardiogram.
Q:WHAT IS A HYPERTENSIVE CRISIS?
Dr:This is an emergency when the blood pressure readings have skyrocketed to 180/120 mmHg (the normal being 120/80mmHg). If the reading has been taken at home, it is recommended to recheck BP after 5 minutes. If the blood pressure is still high, then it is best to contact the doctor immediately. If the person has other symptoms such as chest pain, blurry vision, breathing difficulty or any sort of numbness, he/she needs to be taken to the emergency room immediately.
Q:WHAT UNDERLYING CONDITIONS CAN CAUSE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?
Dr:Causes for Hypertension include underlying conditions such as: kidney disease, long-term infection in the kidneys, constriction of arteries that supply blood to the kidneys, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, thyroid problems, hormonal imbalance, auto-immune diseases like lupus, and scleroderma.
Q:WHAT INCREASES THE RISK FOR HYPERTENSION?
Dr:Obesity, Smoking, High salt diet, lack of exercise, alcohol consumption, irregular sleep patterns and a family history of High BP increases risks for high blood pressure.
Q:CAN HYPERTENSION LEAD TO OTHER COMPLICATIONS?
Dr:Unchecked, untreated Hypertension can affect several parts of the body. Hypertension can lead to the build of plaque on the inside walls of blood vessels causing Atherosclerosis, which can in turn lead to a Stroke. Heart Failure, Ischemic Heart disease and Hypertensive Cardiomyopathy are all Heart conditions related to Hypertension – all of which are potentially fatal. Hypertension can damage the arteries supplying blood to the kidneys leading to kidney disease. Hypertension can also damage the retina leading to irreversible vision loss.
Q:HOW IS HYPERTENSION TREATED?
Dr:The doctor will recommend certain lifestyle changes and prescribe medication to help lower blood pressure. These measures are often required to last for life in order to maintain a healthy BP and avoid complications due to hypertension.
Q:WHAT LIFESTYLE CHANGES ARE REQUIRED TO HELP WITH HYPERTENSION?
Dr:In order to control and manage hypertension the doctor will recommend eating a low sodium diet with heart-healthy foods, getting regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy body weight, quitting alcohol and smoking. With these changes, high blood pressure can be lowered and managed. However, if the BP continues to be high, along with these changes, the doctor will also prescribe medication to lower BP. Discuss with your doctor what the goal of the treatment is, as in what is the ideal Blood Pressure you should come to. Also discuss and understand the side-effects of the medication, if any. Refrain from taking any other types of treatment in tandem with what the doctor has prescribed without consulting with the doctor first.
CONSULTANT – CARDIOLOGY
MBBS, MD (MEDICINE), DM (CARDIOLOGY)