What is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is an indicator of how hard the heart has to work. It is the force exerted on the walls of the body’s arteries and the organs as the heart pumps the blood through them. Blood pressure that is permanently high is a danger to health because extended periods of it damages the delicate tissues and cells of the arteries and organs.

Left untreated hypertension significantly increases the risk of one developing heart disease leading to heart attacks or having debilitating strokes which may ultimately cause early death.

There is often no symptoms of high blood pressure which is why it is called the silent killer, and many sufferers have been unaware of their condition for several years. It is a fact that most people normally learn they have hypertension when their doctor declares it after a routine check up.

Blood pressure is represented by a pair of numbers in terms of millimetres of mercury, mmHg. The first is called systolic pressure and occurs when the heart actually contracts, the second is the diastolic pressure and occurs when the heart relaxes between beats.

There are modern low cost electronic monitors that measure blood pressure automatically. The cuff is wrapped around the arm and fastened by a Velcro’s strip, and it begins to inflate simply by hitting the “start button”; the machine then returns the systolic pressure, the diastolic blood pressure and the heart pulse rate (per minute) a few seconds later via its electronic display.

This type of monitor makes it very easy for any individual to measure blood pressure at home, and I regard regularly using one as an essential step in high blood pressure management.

The values determined are usually written as

systolic pressure / diastolic pressure

Which is orally expressed as:

“systolic pressure Over diastolic pressure”

So if one has readings of 130 mmHg and 84 mmHg for systolic and diastolic blood pressures respectively, then the blood pressure is written as 130 / 84 and orally expressed as “130 Over 84”.

Assuming that blood pressure is taken when one is relaxed and at rest, one should be wary of high blood pressure when systolic blood pressure reading is regularly above 120 mmHg and/or when diastolic pressure is above 80 mmHg.

High Blood Pressure is defined as being systolic pressure140mmHg and above, or diastolic pressure of 90 mmHg and above. The severity of hypertension is categorised by blood pressures relative to these two pairs of blood pressure values.

Convetional medicine broadly describes Hypertension in two ways; it is either primary or secondary high blood pressure.

Secondary high blood pressure is said to occur when blood pressure is elevated as a result of another specific illness. When this illness is addressed and successfully treated, then the blood pressure disappears.

Culprit diseases are usually those that interfere with the normal functioning of the kidneys, such as inflammation of the kidneys, blockages to the kidney arteries or diabetes.

Only 5 – 10% of hypertension cases are actually of this type.

The 90 – 95% of hypertension cases where the cause is not attributed to a specific illness is broadly known as Primary or Essential High Blood Pressure.

It is this type of hypertension that affects approximately 70 million Americans and millions of others all over the globe, causing so much difficulty for those who are aware of their condition in pin pointing the natural reasons why they have fallen prey to it.

Some experts say Essential High Blood Pressure is due to inherited genetics, some say it is due to “environmental pressures”, some say it is due to stress and anxiety, others say it is hormonal imbalances to blame; one thing agreed upon by everyone though, is high blood pressure truly is epidemic in the industrialised world and its consequences urgently need to be addressed.