Getting to Grips with and Understanding the Basics of High Blood Pressure.

Hypertension means a great different things to different people. The Common definition refers to High Blood Pressure without alluding to any cause.

Because of the silent and insidious way it works in the background i.e. no symptoms it is referred to as the Silent Killer. If left uncontrolled or untreated then High Blood Pressure can cause a variety of illnesses all of which could kill if left to their own devices. In the United States of America alone their estimate to be 50 million sufferers of High Blood Pressure.

High blood pressure occurs more often in blacks—in 32% of black adults compared with 23% of whites and 23% of Mexican Americans. For blacks it would also appear the adverse consequences of high blood pressure were worse.

High blood pressure occurs more often in older people—in about three fourths of women and almost two thirds of men aged 75 or older, compared with only about one fourth of people aged 20 to 74. For those suffering with clinical obesity the incidences of high blood pressure rise by 200%.

It is a staggering figure that possibly only two thirds of the potential high blood pressure sufferers in the US have been diagnosed.Of these people, about 75% receive drug treatment, and of these, about 45% receive adequate treatment.

Hypertension is calculated by way of registering two figures. The first figure is the highest and reflects the highest pressure in the arteries upon contraction of the heart during the process known as systole. As would appear logical the second figure relates to the process of contraction within the heart known as diastole.

The traditional way of reporting blood pressure figures is calculated in millimetres of mercury and described as the systolic over the diastolic (120 over 80 etc). If the blood pressure readings were greater than a systolic pressure of 140 mm Hg and a diastolic pressure off greater than 90 mm Hg than to suffer was deemed to be suffering from high blood pressure.

However it has now been recognized that even these figures may be arbitrary as even the smallest increase in blood pressure is a risk.The limits were established because people with blood pressure above these levels are at increasing risk of complications.

Research has shown that it is not unusual for raised figures in both systolic and diastolic pressures for sufferers of high blood pressure. The one major exception to this widely accepted approach towards blood pressure is when it is arising through increased age whereby it is not uncommon to see a raised systolic pressure alongside a normal diastolic figure.

This disorder is called isolated systolic hypertension. Where the blood pressure is in excess of 180/110 mm Hg and there is an absence of associate symptoms then the entire condition is referred to as a hypertensive urgency.”

There has been an additional condition recognized as malignant hypertension and this occurs when blood pressure readings are in excess of 210/120 mm Hg.It occurs in only about 1 of 200 people who have high blood pressure.

Again the incidences of malignant hypertension is greater within the black community and amongst those people from the socioeconomic groups. Unlike hypertensive urgency, malignant hypertension may produce a variety of severe symptoms. If untreated, malignant hypertension usually leads to death in 3 to 6 months.