What is High Blood Pressure?
High Blood Pressure or Hypertension is a condition where the higher pressure in the blood stream causes the blood to push heavily against the vessel walls, a dangerous effect that causes the heart to work harder than it would otherwise which can lead to very severe life-threatening effects such as stroke, heart attacks or even leading to aneurysms. The exact cause of high blood pressure can be related to a range of health conditions but links have been found with the high intake levels of salt, commonly found in patients suffering from obesity. Patients suffering from high cholesterol may also be at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure due to the restricted blood flow caused by the blocked arteries (effect of the plaque buildup).
Blood pressure is represented by measuring the blood pressure through the arteries when the heart beats and is pumping blood through the arteries (called the systolic pressure) over the pressure of the arteries between heart beats when the heart is relaxed (called the diastolic pressure). These numbers are represented in the form ‘120/80’ or 120 over 80 and are measured in the unit mmHg (millimeters of mercury). A healthy blood pressure ranges from 90/60 to 120/80, other categorizations can be found below.
Blood Pressure Ranges:
- Less than 90/60 – Low Blood Pressure
- Between 90/60 and 120/80 – Healthy Blood Pressure
- Between 120/80 and 140/90 – Borderline High Blood Pressure
- Over 140/90 – High Blood Pressure
How to Manage High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is a readily manageable condition which can often be treated with lifestyle changes and medication as recommended by your doctor. Healthy lifestyle changes should be taken, involving exercising regularly for a minimum of 30mins, 5 times a week and transitioning to a healthier diet. The main feature diet should involve cutting out a large majority of high sodium foods such as sauces, dressings, margarine/butter spreads, cured meats and salted nuts or other salted snacks, but should also cut out excess sugar consumption except in foods that are naturally high in sugar such as various fruits and vegetables.
If you have tried transitioning to a healthier lifestyle and find that it isn’t enough to manage/lower your blood pressure then a consult with a doctor may confirm your need for high blood pressure medication. There are a wide range of blood pressure lowering medications available in the Australian market ranging from Amlodipine to Valsartan, each with individual methods and degree of effect, In order to find the correct medication for you it’s important you consult your doctor/GP first. It is important to note that these blood pressure medicines don’t provide a cure to blood pressure but instead help you control and manage it, this medicine will need to be taken regularly and often taken for the rest of your life.
Often when you see your doctor or GP you will most likely be instructed to monitor your blood pressure at various times throughout the day over a couple of day period. The most effective way to do this at home is through an electronic blood pressure monitor (as seen above) which can often be provided by your doctor/GP or purchased through your local pharmacy or chemist.