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What Is Hypertension and What Can I Do About It?

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common condition characterized by your blood placing excessive force against the walls of your blood vessels. Over time, hypertension can damage the vessels and lead to conditions such as heart attacks and strokes. 

Hypertension is a silent but potentially life-threatening condition that affects almost half of American adults. Because symptoms aren’t always obvious, regular blood pressure checks are important to catch the problem early and lower your risk of heart disease down the road.

In Woodstock, Georgia, Dr. James Lee and our team at Woodstock Family Practice & Urgent Care are experts in diagnosing and treating hypertension.

What is hypertension?

With every heartbeat, blood pumps through your body. The blood exerts pressure on the inside walls of your blood vessels. Healthy blood pressure is important so blood can flow through your body and supply organs and tissues with nutrients and oxygen. 

Hypertension typically refers to permanently elevated blood pressure in the arteries, the blood vessels leading away from the heart. 

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg. Stage 1 hypertension results when the upper (systolic) blood pressure is 130 mmHg or higher and/or the lower (diastolic) blood pressure is 80 mmHg or higher. If the reading is 140/90, you have stage 2 hypertension.

What do systolic and diastolic ​​mean?

We measure your upper (systolic) blood pressure when the heart contracts and pumps blood into the arteries and the lower (diastolic) value when the heart relaxes. 

Between heartbeats, less blood flows into the arteries. That’s why the diastolic blood pressure is lower than the systolic. We use both numbers to determine whether you have hypertension.

Symptoms of hypertension 

Many patients often don’t feel anything with early-stage hypertension. Symptoms usually appear only when the blood pressure is extremely elevated. Then, you might experience symptoms that include difficulty breathing, chest pain, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and nosebleeds. 

Risks of untreated hypertension

Persistent high blood pressure damages the blood vessels and opens the door to a range of cardiovascular diseases. Hypertension can impair organ function and cause permanent organ damage. Untreated, your blood pressure readings are likely to get progressively worse.

Hypertension prevention

You can help keep your blood pressure within a healthy range by leading a healthy lifestyle. Make these habits a part of your daily routine:

Healthy diet

A healthy diet includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole-grain products and limits salt and fat. The CDC recommends the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan.

Regular exercise

Physical exercise increases blood pressure in the short term because more blood is pumped through the cardiovascular system. However, blood pressure drops in the long run because the movement expands your system of blood vessels

Healthy weight

Combining a healthy diet and regular exercise can help you reach a healthy weight.

Lifestyle changes

Reducing hypertension is just one of the many health benefits of drinking less alcohol and quitting smoking.

The risk of hypertension increases with age, but it can occur in young people. Catching high blood pressure early can prevent or delay the development of hypertension-related diseases and improve your quality of life.

Call Woodstock Family Practice & Urgent Care if it’s been more than two years since your last blood pressure screening. We use a holistic approach to treating hypertension and other health issues and look forward to building a personal relationship with you. Call today or request an appointment online.

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