Hypertension also known as high blood pressure is defined as a consistently elevated blood pressure exceeding 140/90 mm Hg.It affects millions of people every year, even children and teens. It is called the silent killer because it usually does not show any symptoms for years even decades until it has damaged vital organs. Uncontrolled or poorly controlled hypertension can damage blood vessels in the eye, harden heart arteries leading to arteriosclerosis and can ultimately cause heart attacks and stroke.
SIGNS AND TESTS
Blood pressure is most often measured with a device known as a sphygmomanometer, which consists of a stethoscope, arm cuff, dial, pump, and valve. A blood pressure reading is given in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Blood pressure is measured in two ways: systolic and diastolic. The upper number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats (systolic pressure). The lower number measures the pressure in your arteries between beats (diastolic pressure).
The are 4 general categories of blood pressure reading and these are:
Normal: < 120/80
Prehypertension: 120 -139 over 80-89
Stage 1 HBP: 140-159 over 90-99
Stage 2 HBP: 160 and above over 100 and above
If you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend other tests, such as:
Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) – This test measures the electrical activity, rate, and rhythm of your heartbeat through electrodes attached to your arms, legs, and chest. The results are recorded on graph paper.
Echocardiogram – This test uses ultrasound waves to provide pictures of the heart’s valves and chambers. These waves allow the healthcare professional to study the pumping action of the heart. In addition measurement of the chambers and wall thickness of the heart can be made.
DRUGS FOR HYPERTENSION
Thiazide diuretics – These are also called water pills and often the first choice of medication for hypertension. They act on your kidney to eliminate water and salt from your body are reduce blood volume.
Beta blockers – These work to reduce the workload on your heart and open your blood vessels. This makes your heart beat slower and with less force. These work better when combined with diuretics.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors – They work to relax blood vessels by blocking the formation of a natural chemical that narrows blood vessels.
Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) – These medications block the action (not the formation) of a natural chemical that narrows blood vessels resulting in relaxation of the blood vessel.
Calcium channel blockers – They help relax the muscles of your blood vessels and may slow heart rate.
CAUTION – Grapefruit juice interacts with some calcium channel blockers, increasing blood levels of the medication and putting you at higher risk of side effects,
Renin inhibitors – Aliskiren (Tekturna) slows down the production of renin that starts a chain of chemical steps that increases blood pressure.
If your blood pressure goal is not reached with the above medication, your doctor may prescribe: