Video: Hypertension Video

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Hypertension. Lee Carter, M.D., of Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, California, discusses the diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, or high blood pressure. Dr. Carter emphasizes that hypertension can lead to serious illness and even death, if it goes undetected and untreated. Because hypertension may lack symptoms, its considered one of the silent killers.

High blood pressure is the most serious disease for the heart of all time. High blood pressure or as we say hypertension means high pressure tension in the arteries and veins. Arteries are vessels that carry blood from the pumping heart to all the tissues and organs of the body. High blood pressure does not mean excessive emotional tension, although emotional tension and stress can temporarily increase blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 but blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 is called "pre-hypertension", and a blood pressure of 140/90 or above is considered high. The top number of blood pressure, which is the systolic blood pressure, corresponds to the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts and pumps blood forward into the arteries.

The bottom number, which is the diastolic pressure, represents the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes after the contraction. The diastolic pressure reflects the lowest pressure to which the arteries are exposed. A rise of the systolic or diastolic blood pressure increases the risk of developing heart disease, kidney disease, hardening of the arteries, eye damage, and even stroke in some cases. These complications of hypertension are often referred to as end-organ damage because damage to these organs is the end result of chronic high blood pressure. For that reason, the diagnosis of high blood pressure is important. So efforts can be made to normalize blood pressure and prevent complications. It was previously thought that rises in diastolic blood pressure were a more important risk factor than systolic elevations, but it is now known that in people 50 years or older systolic hypertension represents a greater risk.

The American Heart Association estimates high blood pressure affects approximately one in three adults in the United States. High blood pressure is also estimated to affect about two million American teenagers and children. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that many people with hypertension are under-diagnosed and have not checked in with their doctors. Blood pressure can be affected by several factors, so it is important to understand the environment when blood pressure is measured. For at least one hour before blood pressure is taken, avoid eating, doing exercise, smoking, and caffeine intake.

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