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High Blood Pressure

photo of a young boy pretending to give a young girl a shot in the armSymptoms and diagnosis of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can help patients and doctors identify this potentially life-threatening condition. Understanding the essentials of hypertension, from basic human anatomy to the disease process, can help patients live better and healthier lives. Tendency to suffer hypertension tends to run in families, and the family practitioner (FP) may identify the patient’s increased potential for the condition. Johns Creek Dermatology and Family Medicine is a family-focused medical provider and treats patients with hypertension to improve health outcomes.

What is blood pressure?

The average person’s heart beats an amazing ninety thousand times every day. As the heart beats, it pushes circulating blood into the arteries. These muscular tubes carry oxygenated blood to every cell in the body. The body’s circulatory system branches into smaller and tinier tubes and vessels to accomplish this task.

As the heart beats, force is generated and transferred to circulating blood. When blood is expelled from the heart, the force of circulation continues to the arteries. The strength of force actually pushes blood against artery walls and arteries in turn push back. This action and reaction moves blood throughout the body.

The force of the heart muscle causes reactive pressure in the arteries. This is called blood pressure. The physician measures blood pressure by taking systolic pressure and diastolic pressure numbers. Systolic pressure measures how much the heart contracts (the top number of blood pressure) and diastolic pressure measures the heart muscle in relaxation (the smaller bottom number of blood pressure). For example, a normal blood pressure is written 120/80 and the doctor or nurse will almost always tell you your numbers by saying, “Your blood pressure is 120 over 80 today.” Blood pressure is one of the easiest ways for the doctor to measure cardiovascular health and risk, so it is frequently considered one of the patient’s most important vital signs.

This force also causes pressure within the arteries, which is called blood pressure. Blood pressure measurements consist of two numbers. The systolic pressure is measured while the heart is contracting, and is the larger of the two numbers. The diastolic pressure is measured while the heart is relaxing, and is smaller than the systolic pressure. These two pressures are written together, like this: 120/80, and pronounced “120 over 80.” Both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure are important determinants of cardiovascular risk, so both are used in evaluating overall blood pressure status.

Hypertension exists when the heart works too hard. A blood pressure reading of 140/90 is considered an indicator of high blood pressure.

Why is my blood pressure level so important?

The physician measures the patient’s blood pressure over time and monitors the average value. Rising blood pressure, or hypertension, increases the patient’s risk of stroke, heart attack, or kidney failure to name a few. Hypertension isn’t the only factor in the development of these serious diseases, so it’s important to identify and manage all the patient’s risk factors to maintain and improve health. Johns Creek Dermatology and Family Medicine evaluates the patient’s health with regular physical exams and takes the patient’s vital signs at each visit.

What are the symptoms of hypertension?

Many patients have hypertension without knowing it. The patient suffers no pain or other symptoms related to its presence. That’s why hypertension is thought of as a silent killer. The patient won’t make the patient feel weak or suffer chest pain as in some forms of heart disease. For that reason, the patient generally carries on with normal life and has no external cue that anything’s wrong. However, there are several ways to identify hypertension, so it’s important to know about them:

    • Incidental Discovery: It’s not uncommon for the patient to learn he or she has hypertension during a routine doctor visit. The doctor can discover hypertension during a regular annual exam or during a pregnant patient’s check-up. Many people with hypertension are young and some patients, such as expectant mothers, may not worry about health issues until they are pregnant.
    • Other Ailments: It’s also possible for the doctor to discover hypertension when other physical problems are identified. Hypertension damages the body’s blood vessels over time and can increase the incidence of a stroke or heart attack. Symptoms related to a serious health problem can prompt the patient to call the doctor’s office. These symptoms may include: nausea, feeling dizzy, general fatigue, confusion, pressure/pain/tightness of the chest or in the arms, decreased tolerance for exercise, nausea, or fainting.

 

If I have hypertension, how does the doctor treat my condition?

Because hypertension is complex, the doctor will discuss making lifestyle adjustments related to nutrition and physical exercise in the treatment plan. The patient should reduce if overweight and stop smoking if he or she smokes. Alcohol consumption may also be a factor in hypertension, so it’s important for the patient to reduce the number of drinks he or she enjoys.

In some cases, lifestyle changes can control mild hypertension. In others, prescription medicines and ongoing monitor of the patient’s blood pressure is necessary to manage the condition.

Conclusion

High blood pressure is a treatable condition. It’s important for all patients to have their blood pressure taken regularly because early identification and treatment protect the patient from problems associated with long-term hypertension. Patients in and around North Atlanta, including Roswell, Johns Creek, Duluth, Alpharetta, Cumming, Suwanee, and South Forsyth County, North Fulton County, and Gwinnett County should call Johns Creek Dermatology and Family Medicine to make an appointment today: 770-771-6591.