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High Blood Pressure Articles:

High Blood Pressure: What is it really?

10 Ways to Reduce Blood Pressure Naturally

Cause and Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

10 Ways to Reduce Blood Pressure Naturally

High blood pressure diagnosis: The safe and effective way!

High Blood Pressure Diagnosis Page #2

The Effective Treatment of High Blood Pressure #1

The Effective Treatment of High Blood Pressure #2

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Aldactazide Medication

Aceon: High blood pressure medicine

Accupril Medication:

Sectral for High Blood Pressure?

Medication Information for the Elderly

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General Information and Referral-St. Louis, MO

Health Insurance 101 for Senior Citizens 

Depression among the Elderly

Long term care insurance: What is it really?

Medicare: How will it help me?

Nursing Homes: What critical information should I know?

Personal Safety for Grandma and Grandpa

Prescription Medication: You have to get it right

Psychiatric Medications

Social Security: Can I get it now?

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High Blood Pressure: What is it really? 

 

high blood pressureHigh blood pressure or hypertension is blood pressure that is consistently higher then what is considered to be a normal level. When you hear the term blood pressure, what is being referring to is the force that is exerted by blood against the walls of arteries, which are the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the entire body. In the United States, high blood pressure is known to be more common as people age.  More than half of people over the age of 65 are known to have high blood pressure. 

Arteries become damaged when high blood pressure is persistent.  It speeds up the deposits of cholesterol and other fatty materials that collect in the arteries resulting in atherosclerosis.  This may cause arteries to weaken and sometimes even bulge and rupture.  It can cause the heart to enlarge.  Sometimes, tissues (particularly in the brain, heart and kidneys) are damaged which frequently results in early death.  As blood pressure continues to rise the risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney failure also increase.  On occasion, very high blood pressure will even impair vision.  Treatment effectively controls high blood pressure and may help prevent the problems it can potentially cause.  The measurement of an individualís blood pressures consists of two numbers. The higher number (systolic pressure) represents the pressure when the heart beats.  The lower number is referred to as diastolic pressure, which actually refers to the pressure when the heart relaxes between beats.  Ideal blood pressure is usually considered to be 120/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury).  This reading is usually referred to as "120 over 80".  High blood pressure is when systolic pressure is 140 mm Hg. or higher, and when the diastolic pressure is 90 mm Hg. or higher.  When younger people have high blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic blood pressure is usually high.  Older people with high blood pressure, frequently have high systolic blood pressure (more than 140 mm Hg) while diastolic pressure remains in the normal range (less than 90 mm Hg.).  This disorder is usually referred to as isolated systolic hypertension and may actually have greater risk for harm than when both systolic and diastolic pressures are high. 

 

An individualís blood pressure is at least partly determined by how well the heart, arteries and kidneys work together.  Drugs that are used to treat high blood pressure (antihypertensive drugs) lower blood pressure by affecting how these organs function.  The way the body controls and determines blood pressure is relatively complicated.  It involves the heart, arteries and kidneys working together. Blood pressure is affected by the following: 

  • How fast the heart is beating and how forcefully it contracts.  An increase in the force or rate tends to increase blood pressure.

  • Whether the small arteries that carry blood to the tissues can expand (dilate) and contract (constrict).  If the vessels have trouble dilating, are blocked or stiff, the heart must work harder to pump blood into them and blood pressure increases.

  • Whether the kidneys can remove enough water and salt from the body.  If water and salt are not effectively removed from the body, the amount of blood in the body increases ((blood volume). When blood volume increases, the heart has to work harder causing blood pressure to increase.

Certain hormones in the nervous system also have an effect on blood pressure.  They help regulate the heart rate, the force of the heartís contractions and the diameter of arteries.  Some hormones also affect the amount of water and salt that the kidneys are able to excrete resulting in high blood pressure. 

Some information from The Merck Manual of Health of Aging 

Additional information and web page by Paul Susic M.A. Licensed Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate (Health Psychology) 

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