Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
The following describes the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure). For specific information regarding your health and treatment options, please contact your Hurley physician or medical professional.
What is hypertension (high blood pressure)?
Blood pressure is the measure of force and resistance of the blood in the veins. A normal amount of pressure indicates that the blood can flow normally through the arteries and veins and that the heart is working at the right level in order to pump the blood throughout the body. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, means that the blood is moving with some difficulty through narrower blood vessels and that your heart is working too hard to get the blood where it needs to be. High blood pressure increases your risk of stroke, heart attack and other conditions.
What causes high blood pressure?
The most common form of high blood pressure, known as primary hypertension, develops slowly over years. The causes of primary hypertension are not well known. On the other hand, secondary hypertension, which occurs less frequently, can strike quite rapidly and is typically related to another disorder or illness, such as kidney disease, heart defects or tumors in certain glands, or to the use of certain medications such as birth control pills, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter medications used to treat colds, allergies or pain.
Your risk of high blood pressure may also be dependent on what are known as risk factors. For example, high blood pressure is more common in older people (men typically develop high blood pressure at an earlier age than women), in African-Americans, and in people who have a family history of high blood pressure. Other factors that may increase risk of high blood pressure include obesity, lack of exercise, too much salt or not enough potassium in the diet, stress, smoking and alcohol use.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
Symptoms of hypertension are rare, except in those with extremely high blood pressure. People with very high or advanced high blood pressure may experience headaches, dizziness or increased bleeding (including nosebleeds). Because high blood pressure often goes undetected by individuals, you should have your blood pressure checked regularly as part of your periodic physical examinations or health check-ups.
How is high blood pressure diagnosed?
As part of your regular physical examinations or health check-ups, your Hurley medical professional will test your blood pressure using a blood-pressure cuff (a device that fits around your upper arm). Many pharmacies and retail stores have self-testing equipment; however, these machines are not always reliable or accurate, and should be used only as a general indicator of blood pressure levels.
How is high blood pressure treated?
Your Hurley physician will work with you to reduce your high blood pressure back to normal levels. Your physician may recommend lifestyle changes, such as eating a low-salt, low-fat, high-fiber diet, increased exercise, and stopping smoking or drinking alcohol. If your blood pressure is very high, is difficult to control through changes in behavior and activity, or you are at increased risk of heart disease due to other conditions (such as diabetes), you may be prescribed medications that can help lower your blood pressure.
Hurley’s new patient monitoring system now gives doctors, nurses and other clinicians the ability to view patients’ vital information right at their bedsides rather than from a central location on a hospital floor. This highly innovative telemetry technology, Philips IntelliVue MX40 Patient Monitoring, can be used on any type of patient but is primarily used on cardiac patients. The mobile monitors, which are about the size of a deck of cards, help clinicians spend more time with patients because the monitor’s display allows them to quickly check ECG rhythms, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, trends and monitoring status. Another important feature of the monitors is that they can stay with patients even if the patients are moved to a different floor or area of the hospital.