Stethoscope on the Cardiogram

High Blood Pressure

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High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when blood pressure increases to unhealthy levels. Blood pressure measurement takes into account how much blood is passing through blood vessels and the amount of resistance the blood meets while the heart is pumping.

Narrow arteries increase resistance. The narrower arteries are, the higher blood pressure will be. Over the long term, increased pressure can cause health issues, including heart disease.

Symptoms of severe hypertension can include:

  • headaches

  • shortness of breath

  • nosebleeds

  • flushing

  • dizziness

  • chest pain

  • visual changes

  • blood in the urine

Diagnosing hypertension is as simple as taking a blood pressure reading. Most doctors’ offices check blood pressure as part of a routine visit. If the patient don’t receive a blood pressure reading at next appointment, request one.

If blood pressure is elevated, The doctor may request to have more readings over the course of a few days or weeks. A hypertension diagnosis is rarely given after just one reading. The doctor needs to see evidence of a sustained problem. That’s because environment can contribute to increased blood pressure, such as the stress the patient may feel by being at the doctor’s office. Also, blood pressure levels change throughout the day.

Two numbers create a blood pressure reading:

  • Systolic pressure: This is the first, or top, number. It indicates the pressure in arteries when heart beats and pumps out blood.

  • Diastolic pressure: This is the second, or bottom, number. It’s the reading of the pressure in arteries between beats of heart.