For years, physicians have referred to hypertension as the silent killer because it can exist with no obvious symptoms. Although some patients complain of dizziness, headaches or blurred vision, most patients only discover they need hypertension treatment when they are aware of their blood pressure levels and adverse effects.
Hypertension is a health condition in which blood pressure is persistently elevated. Constant high blood pressure puts undue stress on the heart, blood vessels and other organs.
High blood pressure is a serious health risk for many people and may cause:
Blood pressure is a measure of the force that blood exerts on the blood vessel walls. Blood pressure is higher when the heart contracts, pumping blood into the arteries and it falls when the heart rests.
A blood pressure reading measures blood pressure when the heart contracts and when it relaxes. The first number (the systolic) is your blood pressure when the heart contracts and the second number (the diastolic) is your reading when the heart relaxes. If one or both of the measurements are higher than normal, you may have high blood pressure.
Normal blood pressure level for a healthy adult is 120/80. However, no one's blood pressure is constant. Exercise, a cigarette, a sudden burst of anger--all of these can raise normal blood pressure levels, but they don't raise blood pressure to dangerous levels for long periods of time. In the absence of high blood pressure symptoms, hypertension is diagnosed based on several blood pressure readings taken over a period of time.
After doctors measure blood pressure levels, the results may be compared to a blood pressure chart. The chart is very easy to read. Different blood pressure levels are listed, with the highest levels at the bottom of the chart. Where you rank on the blood pressure chart gives the doctor an idea of how severe your hypertension is. The categories range from normal blood pressure to severe hypertension.
Low blood pressure is not determined by blood pressure levels, but by symptoms. A drop in normal blood pressure that causes no symptoms in one person may cause dangerous symptoms in another. Symptoms of low blood pressure include:
Because children naturally have a normal blood pressure that's lower than an adult's, a child is at risk for hypertension at much lower blood pressures. Normal blood pressure for children also varies by gender:
Cunha, J. and Lee, D. (2008). Low blood pressure (hypotension). Retrieved March 5, 2010, from the MedicineNet Web site: http://www.medicinenet.com/low_blood_pressure/article.htm.
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Staff. (2008). What is high blood pressure? Retrieved March 5, 2010, from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Web site: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Hbp/HBP_WhatIs.html.
Vidt, D. (n.d.). Hypertension. Retrieved March 5, 2010, from the Cleveland Clinic Web site: http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/nephrology/arterial-hypertension/.
Your Total Health Staff. (n.d.). High blood pressure in children. Retrieved March 5, 2010, from the Your Total Health Web site: http://yourtotalhealth.ivillage.com/high-blood-pressure-in-children.html?pageNum=4.
information on health-related topics, not medical advice, diagnosis or
treatment recommendations. Please consult your physician if you have questions