Best Resources for Hypertension


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Hypertension, also called high blood pressure (HBP), is an unhealthy increase in blood pressure levels. Blood pressure is the amount of blood pumped by the heart and the amount of resistance to blood flow in the arteries. Hypertension develops slowly over time (usually without symptoms) as a result of poor diet choices, irregular physical activity, and having conditions such as diabetes and obesity. There are two types of high blood pressure: Primary hypertension - caused by genetics, physical changes e.g. in kidney function, and unhealthy lifestyle choices; Secondary hypertension - due to an underlying condition e.g. obstructive sleep apnea, adrenal gland tumors, and thyroid problems. Untreated hypertension can damage the arteries, making them less elastic, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart and leads to heart disease. It can also lead to angina (chest pain), heart failure, heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, and chronic kidney disease. To measure blood pressure, a device called a sphygmomanometer (also known as a blood pressure monitor) is used. It consists of an inflatable cuff, and a mercury or aneroid manometer. It can be manual or electrical. The sphygmomanometer measures systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels, and the values obtained are compared to government guidelines. The blood pressure guidelines set out by the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association are: Normal: systolic - less than 120 mm Hg, diastolic - less than 80 mm Hg; Elevated: systolic - 120–129 mm Hg, diastolic - less than 80 mm Hg; Hypertension: systolic - 130 mm Hg or higher, diastolic - 80 mm Hg or higher. High blood pressure can be prevented and managed by increasing physical activity (at least 150 minutes each week), maintaining a healthy weight (excess fat makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood and oxygen around the body) limiting sodium and alcohol intake, avoiding smoking (it damages blood vessels), and managing stress. There are medications available to treat HBP, which function by increasing water excretion, relaxing the blood vessels, helping the heart beat easily, blocking nerve activity that can restrict blood vessels.