Blood pressure

"Blood pressure" is the force with which your heart pumps blood through

the body. Occasional increases in blood pressure levels are not



Hypertension is high blood pressure. When heart beats (contracts and

relaxes) it pumps out a certain volume of blood. The maximum arterial

pressure, measured in mm Hg, determines the systolic reading and the

lowest reading of this pressure is called the diastolic pressure. It is

widely accepted that a person having a reading of a systolic pressure of

greater than/equal to 140 mm Hg and a diastolic pressure of greater

than/equal to 90 mm Hg is considered to have high blood pressure. When

such a reading is sustained over a period of time, it is diagnosed as



There are two types of hypertension. One is primary hypertension and

the other is secondary hypertension. The cause of primary hypertension

is unknown. It just happens but however, there are certain risk factors

or associations such as hereditary factors, race, age, environmental

and life-style factors (where you live, salt and other chemicals,

weight, stress, alcohol, lack of exercise). The difference between

primary and secondary hypertension is that we know the causes of

secondary hypertension. Usually, the causes of secondary hypertension

include renal artery stenosis (or other cause of increased plasma

renin), renal parenchymal disease (glomerulonephritis, diabetic

nephropathy, polycystic disease, obstructive uropathy), drugs (oral

contraceptives, steroids), and increased levels of catecholamines

(pheochromocytoma), glucocorticoids (Cushing's disease), or



Hypertension is referred to as "the silent killer" since those afflicted

seem to experience few, if any, symptoms. However, hypertension may be

associated with fatigue, headaches, lightheadedness, chest pains, visual

and speech disturbances, shortness of breath, and nose bleeds.


We do not know what causes "essential" hypertension but we have proof

that there are many factors associated with its development, such as

age, race, and family history. Many of these cannot be controlled or

prevented; however, weight, diet, and life-style can be controlled to a

great extent, and their control may help prevent or reduce your high

blood pressure. Hypertension is controllable and one of the simplest

treatment is taking medication. There are a wide variety of medication

available for patients. Diuretics, beta blockers, calcium channel

blockers, ACE inhibitors, alpha blockers, central agents, and

vasodilators are just some drugs used to treat high blood pressure.


High blood pressure is dangerous because if it is not treated and

controlled it can damage important organs of the body: the heart, brain,

kidneys, and eyes. When blood pressure remains abnormally high for a

long time, usually years, the increased force against the walls of the

arteries causes them to become thicker and crooked, decreasing the flow

of blood to the heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes. Cardiovascular

disease is the NO. 1 cause of death. Death rates are higher when high

blood pressure is also present and even higher when the high blood

pressure is associated with other risk factors such as cigarette smoking

and high blood cholesterol.

Target Organs

Heart - enlargement of the heart and increased hardening, thickening,

and blockage of the coronary arteries. These changes can lead to chest

pain, heart attacks, heart failure, and irregular heartbeats.

Brain- high blood pressure is the most common cause of strokes, which

also called cerebrocascular accidents (CVAs). Strokes are usually the

result of a clot in a blood vessel or a bursting of a blood vessel in

the brain. This cuts off the supply of oxygen and nutrients, so that a

portion of the brain gets sick and dies.

Kidneys - your kidneys filter waste substances out of the blood into the

urine. if your kidneys do not function properly, these waste substances

build up in the blood and, beyond a certain level, begin to poison your

body. As in the heart, the blood vessels in your kidneys can become

hardened and thickened as a result of high blood pressure, and they

cannot carry enough blood to nourish these organs and aid in eliminating

waste. The result is kidney renal failure.

Eyes- long-standing high blood pressure can cause serious eye problems,

such as bleeding or clots in the small eye vessels or tearing away of

the lining of the inner eye.