Controlling Hypertension to Goal


What causes high blood pressure?

For most people, there is no single known cause of high blood pressure. This type of high blood pressure is called "primary" or "essential" hypertension. This type of blood pressure can't be cured, although in most cases, it can be controlled. That's why it's so important for everyone to take steps to reduce their chances of developing high blood pressure.

In a few people, high blood pressure can be traced to a known cause like tumors of the adrenal gland, chronic kidney disease, hormone abnormalities, use of birth control pills, or pregnancy. This is called secondary hypertension. Secondary hypertension is usually cured if its cause passes or is corrected.

How can you prevent high blood pressure?

Everyone – regardless of race, age, sex, or heredity – can help lower their chance of developing high blood pressure. Here's how:

1) Maintain a healthy weight, lose weight if you are overweight
2) Be more physically active
3) Choose foods lower in salt and sodium and
4) If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation

Theses rules are also recommended for treating high blood pressure, although medicine is often added as part of the treatment. It is far better to keep your blood pressure from getting high in the first place.

Another important measure for your health is to not smoke. While cigarette smoking is not directly related to high blood pressure, it increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.

How is blood pressure checked?

Having your blood pressure checked is quick, easy, and painless. Your blood pressure is measured with an instrument called a sphygmomanometer (sfig-mo-ma-nom-e-ter). It works like this: A blood pressure cuff is wrapped around your upper arm and inflated to stop the flood flow in your artery for a few seconds. A valve is opened and air is then released from the cuff and the sounds of your blood rushing through an artery are heard through a stethoscope. The first sound heard and registered on the gauge or mercury column is called the systolic blood pressure. It represents the maximum pressure in the artery produced as the heart contracts and the blood begins to flow. The last sound heard, as more air is released from the cuff, is the diastolic blood pressure. It represents the lowest pressure that remains within the artery when the heart is at rest.

What do the numbers mean?

Blood pressure is always expressed in two numbers that represent the systolic and diastolic pressures. These numbers are measurements of millimeters (mm) of mercury (Hg). The measurement is written one above or before the other, with the systolic number on top and the diastolic number on the bottom. For example, a blood pressure measurement of 120/80 mm Hg is expressed verbally as "120/80". See the table below which shows categories for blood pressure levels, in adults.

If your blood pressure is less than 140/90 mm Hg, it is considered normal. However, a blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg is even better for your heart and blood vessels. People used to think that low blood pressure (for example, 105/65 mm Hg in an adult) was unhealthy. Except for rare cases, this is not true. High blood pressure or "hypertension" is classified by stages and is more serious as the numbers get higher.< center >

Categories for Blood Pressure Levels in Adults* (Age 18 Years and Older)
Category Systolic Diastolic
Normal < 130 < 85
High Normal 130-139 85-89
High Blood Pressure
Stage 1 140-159 90-99
Stage 2 160-179 100-109
Stage 3 > 180 > 110

(< means less than, > means greater than or equal to)