High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

What is high blood pressure?

Your heart pumps blood around your body to deliver energy and oxygen. A certain amount of pressure in your blood vessels is needed to do this. However, if there is too much pressure in your blood vessels, it puts extra strain on your arteries and heart, which can lead to serious conditions such as heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, stroke, or dementia.

A blood pressure reading below 120/80mmHg is considered to be ideal.

People with a blood pressure reading below 90/60mmHg are usually regarded as having low blood pressure.

There are two types of high blood pressure.

Primary (essential) hypertension - For most adults, there's no identifiable cause of high blood pressure. This type of high blood pressure, called primary (essential) hypertension, tends to develop gradually over many years.
Secondary hypertension - Some people have high blood pressure caused by an underlying condition. This type of high blood pressure, called secondary hypertension, tends to appear suddenly and cause higher blood pressure than does primary hypertension. Various conditions and medications can lead to secondary hypertension, including:
- Certain medications, such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers and some prescription drugs
- Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines
-Alcohol abuse or chronic alcohol use
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Kidney problems
- Adrenal gland tumors
- Thyroid problems
Certain defects in blood vessels you're born with (congenital)
Your chances of having high blood pressure increase as you get older. There isn't always a clear cause of high blood pressure but you are at increased risk if you:
~are aged over 65
~are overweight
~have a relative with high blood pressure
~are of African or Caribbean descent
~eat too much salt
~don't eat enough fruit and vegetables
~don't do enough exercise
~drink too much alcohol
~drink too much coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)

Prevention and treatment

You can take steps to prevent high blood pressure by:
»»losing weight if you need to
»»reducing the amount of salt you eat
»»exercising regularly
»»eating a healthy diet
»»cutting back if you drink too much alcohol
»»cutting down on caffeine
»»stopping smoking
If your blood pressure is found to be high, it will need to be closely monitored until it is brought under control. Your doctor will usually suggest changes to your lifestyle and, sometimes, medication to achieve this.
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