High Blood Pressure

(Hypertension)

Etiology: Tension or tonus that is greater than normal. A condition in which the patient has a higher blood pressure than that judged to be normal. There are no precise rules concerning what blood pressure reading is considered to represent hypertension. In general, if on several separate occasions the systolic pressure is above 140 mm. of Mercury or the diastolic above 90 mm. of Mercury, the person is considered to have elevated blood pressure. Normal systolic blood pressure is NOT 100 plus the individual’s age. Coronary artery disease and cerebral vascular disease, the great causes of death and disability, are much more frequent in those who have elevated blood pressure than those who are normotensive. On the other hand, a patient’s blood pressure may register high merely because of being excited when the pressure is taken. For this reason, it is advisable to take the pressure on several separate occasions to be certain that the true blood pressure is being obtained.

CAUSES: The primary factor in hypertension is an increase in peripheral resistance resulting from vasoconstriction or narrowing of peripheral blood vessels. The specific causes for this condition can be determined in only a small number of patients with hypertension. However, it is important to attempt to define the exact cause because, if the disease is due to certain pathological states, definitive and curative therapy can be instituted. High blood pressure and arteriosclerosis seem to run in families as an inherited tendency.

Hypertension is often precipitated by cigarette smoking, stress, obesity, 0excessive us of stimulants such as coffee or tea, drug abuse, high sodium intake, and use of contraceptives.

SYMPTOMS: When the heart pumps the blood through the arteries, the blood presses against the walls of the blood vessels. Those who suffer from hypertension have abnormally high blood pressure. Arteriosclerosis or atherosclerosis are common precursors of hypertension. Because the arteries are obstructed with cholesterol placque in atherosclerosis, circulation of blood through the vessels becomes difficult. When the arteries harden and constrict in arteriosclerosis, the blood is forced through a narrower passageway. As a result, blood pressure becomes elevated.

An estimated 40 million Americans have high blood pressure. The heart must work harder to pump blood in those with hypertension, often leading to heart failure and stroke. High blood pressure is often associated with coronary heart disease, arteriosclerosis, kidney disorders, obesity, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and adrenal tumors.

Hypertension is often without symptoms. Advanced warning signs include headache, sweating, rapid pulse, flushed complexion, shortness of breath, dizziness, and vision disturbances. Because hypertension often shows no signs, regular visits to the doctor to check blood pressure are important, especially for those individuals in high risk categories. Have your blood pressure checked every 4-6 months.

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