What is Hypertension?
Hypertension is an elevated blood pressure. If you get a high reading for your blood pressure, don’t be alarmed automatically. Anything from exercise, tension, or even being a bit nervous for the test can raise your blood pressure. Calm down, sit down for a few minutes and take it again. Here is a chart that can help you see if you have high blood pressure or not.
You may not have any signs of blood pressure, but don’t wait for signs. Symptoms only appear when the blood pressure gets dangerously high, and you don’t want to wait for that to happen.
Why is it dangerous?
The blood vessels in your body are the roads that carry your blood to each of the important and vital organs. As you approach those organs, the vessels get smaller and more fragile. Take your eyes for example. Inside of your eyes are a meshwork of small blood vessels, and if your blood pressure is too high those vessels will be damaged. This will lead to impaired function, headaches, and eventually loss of eyesight. This holds true for all of the organs, though the ones that are most vulnerable are your eyes, heart, kidneys, and brain.
Who should be screen tested?
Luckily, measuring your blood pressure is extremely easy, and requires just the push of a button. This is exactly what screen testing means for hypertension, a periodic measure of blood pressure. Many elderly people have machines at home that allow them to monitor their blood pressure more easily, though this is not necessary for everybody.
Any and every healthy adult after the age of 18 should get their blood pressure tested every 3-5 years. Those with higher risk should be tested annually. Higher risk are people over the age of 40, overweight individuals, or African Americans.
What can we do about it?
This is the good news. There are very good treatments for high blood pressure today, which help significantly lower the risk of stroke, heart failure, or heart attacks, as well as reducing overall mortality. If you have high hypertension, speak with your physician to plan the appropriate treatment to control your blood pressure. Some of these treatments include diuretics, Calcium-channel blockers, ACE inhibitors or ARBs.
Are these the only recommendations?
Of course not. There are many different bodies providing different recommendations, including American National Committees (7th and 8th), American Heart Association, American Academy of Family Physicians’, and Congress. There are also European recommendations, Canadian recommendations and others. They are loosely based on the fact that you are older than 18 years old, and there is a small variation as to wether to check every 3-5 years, every 2 years or annually. It is not extremely important which of these organizations that is followed. The main point is that you are aware of your current situation, aware of your risk factors, and periodically (according to one or another of the recommendations) get your blood pressure measured.
Here are a few studies which prove the efficacy of screening and early treatment for hypertension. Feel free to contact us for more information about the matter, we would be happy to provide more information.
James PA, Oparil S, Carter BL, Cushman WC, Dennison-Himmelfarb C, Handler J, et al. 2014 evidence-based guideline for the management of high blood pressure in adults: report from the panel members appointed to the Eighth Joint National Committee (JNC 8). JAMA. 2014;311:507-20.
Wright JT Jr, Fine LJ, Lackland DT, Ogedegbe G, Dennison Himmelfarb CR. Evidence supporting a systolic blood pressure goal of less than 150 mm Hg in patients aged 60 years or older: the minority view. Ann Intern Med. 2014;160:499-503.
Lindsay P, Connor Gorber A, Joffres M, et al. Recommendations on screening for high blood pressure in Canadian adults. Can Fam Physician 2013;59:927-33.
Guidelines Subcommittee 1999 World Health Organization-International Society of Hypertension Guidelines for the Management of Hypertension. J Hypertens 1999;17:151–183.
O’Brien E, Waeber B, Parati G, Staessen J, Myers MG. Blood pressure measuring devices: recommendations of the European Society of Hypertension. BMJ 2001; 322:531–536.
ChobanianAV, Bakris GL,Black HR,CushmanWC, GreenLA, Izzo JLJr., Jones DW, MatersonBJ, Oparil S, WrightJT Jr., RoccellaEJ. Seventh reportof the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. Hypertension 2003;42:1206–1252.