What is Blood Pressure?
The heart pumps blood around the body providing energy and oxygen, for which a certain pressure or force is required in the blood vessels, known as blood pressure. However, when the pressure is consistently higher than the recommended safe level, it causes a strain to the blood vessels and heart, which may lead to more serious conditions over time.
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), and is recorded as two numbers. The first and top number, represents the ‘systolic pressure’; the pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts to pump out blood. The second and bottom number, represents the ‘diastolic pressure’; the pressure in the arteries when the heart relaxes between beats.
Normal blood pressure for adults is a systolic pressure below 120 mmHg and a diastolic pressure below 80 mmHg. It is usual for one’s blood pressure to change through the course of the day during various activities, however it usually returns to the baseline range of 120/80 mmHg. Blood pressure also differs with age and body size.
High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure, also known as Hypertension, is generally a consistent reading of 140/90 mm Hg or higher. It doesn’t usually present with symptoms and often goes undetected, until it results in more serious conditions. Hypertension has numerous adverse long-term effects; over time it weakens the blood vessels causing ruptures and scar tissues, it increases the risk of blood clots and a buildup of cholesterol and plaque in the vessels, ultimately leading to multiple organ damage and overall pressure on the body’s circulatory system.
It can be caused by a number of factors such as age, gender, family history, lifestyle habits etc. and is a leading risk factor for developing heart disease, stroke, vision and memory loss and other chronic conditions such as kidney disease, often leading to disability and premature death.
High blood pressure doesn’t usually have obvious signs or symptoms and can go undetected for years. A large proportion of people suffering from Hypertension, have it without being at all aware, as symptoms don’t usually appear until it leads to more serious diseases and conditions when left untreated.
The only way of determining if you have high blood pressure is to have it measured. However, a single reading doesn't accurately depict high blood pressure, as blood pressure is affected by numerous activities throughout the day.
Occasionally people with very high blood pressure, may experience symptoms such as persistent headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, nosebleeds, or shortness of breath.
Given the lack of definitive symptoms, it is advisable to have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis, especially if you are pregnant or experience other co-morbid diseases such as Diabetes, Cardiovascular diseases, Dyslipidemia etc.
High blood pressure is a serious condition affecting more than one in four adults, yet 95% of the population is unaware of its causes. As there is no specific cause for developing high blood pressure, we recommend everyone over the age of 40, or if you are at a higher risk due to your ethnicity, gender, weight or family history, has regular blood pressure checks. If left undiagnosed it can lead to more critical long-term conditions such as heart disease, stroke, memory loss and even lead to premature death.