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What is Hypertension?
A very common condition, hypertension, or high blood pressure, is when the force of blood against your artery walls is too high. Because blood pressure is a measure of how much blood your heart pumps and how resistant your arteries are to blood flow, narrow arteries generally means high blood pressure. Over time, high blood pressure can cause a great deal of health problems including heart disease for people in Philadelphia.
The Two Types of Hypertension
While high blood pressure is often grouped into one general category, there are actually two categories:
Primary hypertension is when there is no direct cause. This type most commonly occurs in adults, and develops over the course of a number of years.
Secondary hypertension occurs when there is an existing condition or direct cause. This type will appear suddenly and will cause a much higher blood pressure than primary hypertension. Conditions such as sleep apnea, thyroid problems, and kidney issues as well as alcohol or drug abuse can lead to secondary hypertension.
What Are the Causes of High Blood Pressure?
Because high blood pressure is so common, there are a number of different causes. Many of the most common include:
- A high sodium diet.
- Alcohol or tobacco abuse.
- Old age.
- High stress.
- Chronic conditions or a family history of high blood pressure.
- Lack of physical activity.
In order to properly diagnose high blood pressure, a healthcare professional will measure your blood pressure using a gauge that goes around your arm. This gauge will measure both systolic pressure, the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats, and diastolic pressure, or the pressure between beats.
The following gives an idea of what your blood pressure levels indicate:
Normal Blood Pressure
Systolic: 120 / Diastolic: 80
Elevated Blood Pressure
Systolic: 120-129 / Diastolic: Below 80
Stage 1 Hypertension
Systolic: 130-199 / Diastolic: 80-89
Stage 2 Hypertension
Systolic: 140 / Diastolic: 90
In addition to a blood pressure test, your doctor may suggest further monitoring, such as ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, or tests such as a urinalysis, blood test, or cholesterol test.
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your Ninth Street Internal Medicine provider may prescribe you a number of various medications. Some of the most common types may include:
- Beta Blockers
- Renin Inhibitors
- Angiotensin-converting and receptor blockers
- Alpha and alpha-beta blockers
In addition, there are a number of lifestyle changes that you will be asked to make to treat your hypertension. These may include:
- Decreasing sodium in your diet
- Ceasing smoking and limiting alcohol consumption
- Losing weight
- Creating consistent exercise plans
- Practicing relaxation and breathing
- Eating healthy foods
If you are experiencing symptoms of high blood pressure and are located in the Philadelphia area, or would like to discuss options to prevent them, contact one of the healthcare providers below today.