High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When your heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is called diastolic pressure.

High blood pressure (or hypertension) is diagnosed when your blood pressure readings are consistently at 140 over 90, or higher, over several weeks. You may also have high blood pressure if just one of the numbers is higher than it should be.

If you have high blood pressure, this higher pressure puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. Over time, this extra strain increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

High blood pressure can also cause heart and kidney disease.

High blood pressure is more often than not caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, smoking, consumption of alcohol and being overweight/obese.

Diagnosis and Treatment

As diagnosis is based on blood pressure readings, this condition can go undetected for years, because symptoms do not usually appear until the body is damaged from chronic high blood pressure.

There is a wide range of high blood pressure medicines. You can take more than one type of medicine because each lowers your blood pressure in different ways.

There are four main types of medicine that doctors use to treat high blood pressure:

ACE inhibitors: These medicines help to control hormones that affect blood pressure.

Angiotensin receptor blockers (or ARBs): These also control hormones that affect blood pressure.

Calcium channel blockers: These medicines make the artery walls relax, making them wider, which lowers blood pressure.

Thiazide diuretics: These medicines remove unwanted fluid from the body, which helps lower blood pressure.