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General Information About High Blood Pressure

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The blood circulation is responsible for supplying the body with oxygen. Blood pressure is the pressure exerted on the arteries. The systolic blood pressure value (higher pressure or top value) represents the blood pressure produced by contraction of the heart muscle.The diastolic blood pressure value (lower pressure or lower value) represents the blood pressure produced by relaxation of the heart muscle.

Classification of blood pressure

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Society of Hypertension (ISH) developed the blood pressure classification. This classification is based on the blood pressure values measured while sitting on a chair in the outpatient department of a hospital.

Health and blood pressure

The incidence of hypertension increases with age. In addition, a lack of exercise, excess body fat and high levels of cholesterol (LDL), which sticks to the inside in blood vessels, reduces elasticity of these vessels. Hypertension accelerates arterial sclerosis which can lead to very serious conditions such as stroke and myocardial infarction. For these reasons it is very important to know whether the blood pressure is within a healthy range. Blood pressure fluctuates from minute to minute, throughout the day. Therefore it is essential to take regular measurements to help you identify an average blood pressure.

Symptoms of high blood pressure

High blood pressure can go unnoticed for a long time, since it does not cause noticeable symptoms. The following are all possible causes of abnormally high blood pressure:

  • Overweight
  • High cholesterol level
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Stress and emotional upset
  • Excessive consumption of salt
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Genetic/hereditary predisposition
  • Underlying illnesses, such as kidney disorders or endocrine disturbance

Blood pressure measurement

Measuring your blood pressure daily enables you to recognize high blood pressure at an early stage and obtain medical treatment. The oscillometric method of measurement determines your blood pressure by measuring the pressure fluctuations caused by the pulse waves. Since your blood pressure fluctuates within a day (see graphic next page), you should always measure it at the same time each day to ensure that the measurements are genuinely comparable. At the doctor's surgery, nervousness and tension may cause your blood pressure to be higher than in familiar circumstances at home. This is known as "White Coat Hypertension".

Treatment of high blood pressure

If your blood pressure reaches upper values of 140 - 160 mmHg and lower values of 90 - 95 mmHg in repeated measurements over several days, you should consult your doctor for detailed medical examination. You can assist the treatment prescribed by your doctor in the following ways:

  • Loose weight and lower your cholesterol level by reducing the calories and fat in your diet. Cut down on animal fats and eat more fruit and vegetables.
  • Reduce the consumption of alcohol.
  • Reduce the intake of salt: the German League for Combating High Blood Pressure recommends six grams of salt per day (i.e. one teaspoon) on average.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Take regular exercise.
  • Monitor your blood pressure.

(Source: Omron Healthcare publication)

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