Do you know what Hypertension is?
A lot of people think it means you are very tense, but that’s not it at all. Hypertension is what we diagnose when two levels of pressure in your vascular system (blood circulation system) are higher than they should be. The first figure is called Systolic and we like that level to be ideally equal to or less than 140. The lower figure is called the Diastolic pressure, and ideally we like that to be less than 80.
Many factors can influence a person’s blood pressure and some of these things can be temporary, for example if you are in pain or unwell your blood pressure usually rises. The situation that doctors are commonly faced with is determining whether a person’s blood pressure exceeds recommended levels for lengthy periods of time. There are many ways of resolving this difficulty, including the relatively new technology of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring.
This equipment permits us to see what your blood pressure is in your normal daily life, not just when you’re in our consulting rooms.
The surgery has recently purchased this equipment, so please ask your doctor about it, if it’s relevant to you when you next visit.
What’s the actual problem with having high blood pressure anyway?
Good question. The problem is that if the pressure in the circulatory system (heart and major blood vessels) is too high, the lining of the arteries can become inflamed and if left unchecked, narrowing of arteries and reduction or blocking of circulation can occur. This is one of the processes that can lead to heart attack and stroke and many other things. Also, if your blood pressure is up for a long time, your heart has to work very hard against this high pressure, and that can have damaging consequences.
Wouldn’t I know if I had high blood pressure?
No, unfortunately 9 out of 10 people have no idea that their blood pressure is up. And so, you could have really high blood pressure without realizing it.
What’s the cause of high blood pressure?
There are a number of causes for high blood pressure, and we always look for them, but in 9 out of 10 cases we can’t precisely determine the reason.
If I’m diagnosed with high blood pressure, does that mean I’ll have to take blood pressure tablets forever?
The short answer is no, not in every case. If we find that your blood pressure is too high, we aim to lower it to a safe level. We then embark on a lifestyle modification program in partnership with you, to see what can be achieved that may result in us being able to reduce or stop medication. The principle is that it’s important that your blood pressure is at a safe level while we take time to implement whatever other solutions are possible.
This is an ideal example of where a strong collaboration between you and your doctor can achieve a great outcome if both parties work together and if you, the patient, takes ownership of the problem.