Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is elevated.
This requires the heart to work harder than normal to circulate blood through the blood vessels, and can damage the blood vessels over time. There are often no symptoms or signs of high blood pressure.
Blood pressure measurement involves two readings, systolic and diastolic. Normal blood pressure at rest is within the range of 100-140mmHg systolic (top reading) and 60-90mmHg diastolic (bottom reading). High blood pressure is said to be present if it is persistently at or above 140/90 mmHg.
Blood pressure does not stay the same all the time. It is always changing to meet your body’s needs. Your doctor may recommend that you measure your blood pressure at home or have a 24-hour blood pressure recording, particularly if he suspects that coming to the clinic makes your blood pressure rise.
Hypertension is classified as either primary (essential) or secondary hypertension; 5–10% of cases (secondary hypertension) are caused by other conditions that affect the kidneys, arteries, heart or endocrine system.
Uncontrolled hypertension can lead to serious health problems, such as a heart attack, a stroke, heart failure or kidney disease. Even moderate elevation of arterial blood pressure is associated with a shortened life expectancy.
Dietary and lifestyle changes, including weight loss in overweight people, can improve blood pressure control, although lifelong drug treatment is often necessary.