Hypertension 101

While changing your diet and starting an exercise regime is a good start at beginning to lower your blood pressure, your healthcare center provider may still prescribe one or more different medications to quickly reduce it. Here is what you should know about high blood pressure and these potentially lifesaving drugs.

What Is High Blood Pressure?

As you blood courses through your body, it is under pressure. When the force against your blood vessels in persistently too high, you are said to have too high of a blood pressure, which is called hypertension. Blood pressure is expressed numerically, and when the systolic number is over 130 or the diastolic number is above 80, you have high blood pressure. Systolic is the pressure measured while the heart is beating, while diastolic is the pressure in between beats.

What Are The Complications Of High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure increases when the bad kind of dietary fats (LDL) begin lining the arteries. As blood pressure increases, the blood vessels become narrower from these fat deposits, which are called plaque. Left unchecked, high blood pressure can lead to a stroke, heart failure or a heart attack, heart arrythmias, vision loss, kidney disease, and sexual dysfunction, such as the inability for men to get an erection.

What Are The Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure is often referred to as a "silent killer" as there generally aren't any symptoms. The irregular beating associated with a heart arrythmia may provide an indication of hypertension, but this is not typical. Regular checkups at your healthcare center as well as at-home monitoring can establish a pattern indicative of high blood pressure. At-home monitoring is important as many people get what is referred to as "white coat syndrome," whereby patients experience elevated blood pressure when seeing their doctor. Some doctors will also prescribe ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. This is where the patient wears a portable device for 24 hours to establish an accurate baseline reading.

How Is High Blood Pressure Treated?

Reducing your blood pressure usually requires a multifaceted approach. Eating heart-healthy foods, such as fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, using good fats, like olive oil, reducing sodium intake, minimizing processed foods, and cutting back on alcohol consumption can all help naturally reduce your blood pressure. Being obese or overweight increases blood pressure, so losing weight and exercise will help lower blood pressure.

There are different classes of medications that can be used to treat hypertension. Diuretics help the kidneys remove sodium and water, thus lowering your blood pressure by lowering the volume. Calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors, and blockers called ARBs relax the blood vessels, which leads to a reduction in blood pressure.

If you would like to learn more, or you believe you have a problem with high blood pressure, reach out to a local healthcare center