Morningside General Practice Clinic
Blood pressure and youOne in seven Australians has high blood pressure and many are not aware of it. All adults should know their blood pressure and have it checked every 1-2 years. What is your blood pressure?
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood in the arteries as the heart pumps it around the body. High blood pressure is also known as ‘hypertension’ – however, it is quite different to ‘nervous tension’.
Why does it matter?
Left untreated, high blood pressure can cause heart attacks and heart failure, strokes, and kidney damage. Lowering the blood pressure reduces the risk of these complications considerably.
What do the numbers mean?
Blood pressure is measured as two numbers, eg 130/80, or ‘130 over 80’. The first number is the pressure when the heart pumps (systolic blood pressure). The second number is the reading when the heart relaxes between beats (diastolic blood pressure).
Blood pressure is normal when the systolic pressure is less than 140 and the diastolic pressure is less than 90. However, blood pressure readings change from minute to minute and several measurements may be necessary to find your ‘true’ reading.
How do I know if it is high?
High blood pressure usually causes no symptoms. You can have very high blood pressure and feel perfectly well. The only way to know if it is high is to have it checked. High blood pressure can occur at any age.
How is it treated?
Blood pressure may be lowered (and even prevented) by certain lifestyle changes:
However, most patients will also require medication. Blood pressure drugs are usually taken for life, as they do not cure the condition.
· Lose excess weight
· Reduce your salt intake
· Cut down on alcohol
· Exercise most days of the week, at least 30 minutes
· Eat a low fat diet, high in fruit, vegetables and fish
· Quit smoking
· Relax and reduce stress
The very small risk of serious side effects from medication is greatly outweighed by the benefits of treating high blood pressure. If you do develop a side effect tell your doctor. Never stop your medication without first checking with your doctor.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.
Source: Spring 1999 edition of Your Health Newsletter