Hypertension (HTN) 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.
There are often no symptoms or signs of high blood pressure – you can have high blood pressure and feel well. Therefore, it is important that you have regular blood pressure checks.
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 meetyour body’s needs. If a reading is high, your doctor will probably measure your blood pressure again on several occasions to confirm the level. Your doctor may also 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; about 90–95% of cases are categorized as “primary hypertension” which means high blood pressure with no obvious underlying medical cause. The remaining 5–10% of cases (secondary hypertension) are caused by other conditions that affect the kidneys, arteries, heart or endocrine system.
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 can improve blood pressure control and decrease the risk of associated health complications, although drug treatment is often necessary in people for whom lifestyle changes prove ineffective or insufficient.
Many people with high blood pressure will need to take medicines for the long-termto help keep their blood pressure under control. It is important that you take any blood pressure medicine exactly as prescribed. Don’t stop taking your medication or change the dose without talking to your doctor first.