Introduction to High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is simply the force of the blood pushing against the arteries as it is being carried to other parts of the body. The force is due to the action performed by the heart. Every time the heart beats, it pumps out the blood into the arteries.

The pressure is highest when the heart beats and pumps out the blood. This force is known as systolic pressure. The pressure is lowest when the heart is at rest in between the beats. This is called the diastolic pressure.

The blood pressure of a person usually changes during the day. It is at its lowest when one is asleep and usually at its highest when one is active, excited or nervous. But usually, the blood pressure may stay at similar average levels during the day.

Normal blood pressure levels should be at 120/80 mmHg. It is often considered that a lower blood pressure may be better although very low blood pressure can also be a cause for concern.

When the blood pressure approaches 140/90 mmHg, one is said to have high blood pressure. Once high blood pressure develops in a person, it usually lasts for a lifetime. By this time treating high blood pressure may already be a lifelong necessity.

High blood pressure is most commonly called a silent killer in that it usually offers no symptoms. Most people may not have any idea that they have high blood pressure until they experience trouble with the other organs in their body such as the heart, kidneys or the brain.

When high blood pressure is left untreated, it can eventually cause the heart to become larger which may lead to heart failure. High blood pressure may also cause small bulges to form in the blood vessels.

Called aneurysm, these small bulges may rupture and cause severe internal bleeding which can lead to death, especially if the aneurysm is located in the major organs. Common locations for aneurysms are at aorta, arteries in the brain, legs and the intestine.

High blood pressure may also cause the arteries in the kidney to narrow which may lead to kidney failure.

High blood pressure may also cause the arteries throughout the body to harden which may increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure or amputation of the extremities.

High blood pressure may also cause the blood vessels in the eyes to burst which may result in vision problems and even blindness.

There are certain groups of the population that may find themselves at higher risk of developing high blood pressure. Obese or overweight people are usually at most risk.

Males over the age of 45 and females over 55 may find themselves at risk of developing high blood pressure.

People who have a family history of high blood pressure or hypertension (blood pressure that falls in the 120-139/ 80-89 mmHg) may also have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure later on.