Know Your Numbers: Blood Pressure
Jeremiah Gums, M.D.
Blood pressure is basically a measure of strain on the vessels and so the top number is how much strain is on the vessels when your heart contracts and then the bottom number is the strain after the heart relaxes.
Our goal is 120 over 80 but when you start to get somewhere between you know 120 over 80 to 140 over 90 that's considered that pre hypertensive area. Anything over 140 over 90 is considered hypertensive and that's when we start seeing problems.
Are there any symptoms of high blood pressure?
If your blood pressure is hanging out in that 150 to 180 systolic range, it's probably not going to lead to any symptoms. If it's really high it can cause things like headaches, vision changes, and that sort of thing, but it's a silent problem so a lot of times patients don't realize that their blood pressure is elevated.
What are the consequences of high blood pressure?
High blood pressure can lead to strokes, can also lead to heart disease, can lead to kidney disease and other complications as well.
How is high blood pressure treated?
Initially we can treat it with diet and exercise, if that fails or if it gets to a point where it's so far out of control that, that's not helping, then we need to move on to things like medications and there's some very good medications to help high blood pressure but we like to get it early enough to where we can maybe postpone that or try to control a diet and exercise alone.
How often should my blood pressure be checked?
If you have a problem with high blood pressure it's probably a good idea to check it a couple times a month, you don't necessarily have to check it every day.
If your blood pressure is under control and it's never been a problem, it's probably okay just to check it, you know, every six months to a year.
Does family history play a role in high blood pressure?
People do need to be aware of their family history. If they do have a parent or both parents that have high blood pressure, they should be aware that they are at risk for developing high blood pressure as well.