Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. The heart pumps blood into the arteries (blood vessels), which carry the blood throughout the body. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is dangerous because it makes the heart work harder to pump blood to the body and it contributes to hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis.

What Is "Normal" Blood Pressure?

There are several categories of blood pressure, including:

People whose blood pressure is above the normal range should consult their doctor about methods for lowering it.

What Causes Hypertension?

The exact causes of hypertension are not known. Several factors and conditions may play a role in its development, including:

What Are the Symptoms of Hypertension?

There are no symptoms or signs of hypertension, so you usually don't feel it. In fact, nearly one-third of those who have hypertension don't know it. The only way to know if you have hypertension is to have your blood pressure checked.

Who Is More Likely to Develop Hypertension?

How Is Hypertension Diagnosed?

Your health care provider can tell if you have hypertension by checking your blood pressure with a special meter called a sphygmomanometer, which consists of a stethoscope, arm cuff, dial, pump, and valve. You can also measure your own blood pressure at home. You should have your blood pressure checked at least once a year to make sure you don't have hypertension.

What Health Problems Are Associated With Hypertension?

Hypertension is a serious condition that can damage the blood vessels, and can eventually lead to several other conditions, including:

How Is Hypertension Treated?

Hypertension is typically treated by making changes in your lifestyle, and with drug therapy. Lifestyle changes include losing weight, stopping smoking, eating a healthy diet (such as the DASH diet, which includes lowering sodium but including daily servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods), and getting enough exercise, especially aerobic exercise.

Several types of drugs are available to treat hypertension, including ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), diuretics, beta-blockers, and calcium channel blockers.

Source: WebMd Health

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