by Dr. Anna Li
Normal blood pressure is below 120/80; blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 is called “pre-hypertension,” and a blood pressure of 140/90 or above is considered high.These readings are based on the average of seated blood pressure readings that were properly measured during 2 or more office visits.
Persistent hypertension is one of the risk factors for strokes, heart attacks, heart failure and arterial aneurysm and is a leading cause of chronic renal failure.
Uncomplicated high blood pressure usually occurs without any symptoms (silently) and so hypertension has been labeled “the silent killer.”
Some people with uncomplicated hypertension, however, may experience symptoms such as headache, dizziness, shortness of breath and blurred vision.
People who experience severe headache, nausea, visual symptoms, dizziness and sometimes kidney failure with extreme high diastolic pressure indicates malignant hypertension. Malignant hypertension is a medical emergency and requires urgent treatment to prevent a stroke.
Prevention and treatment
Non-pharmacological options should be explored if you are hypertensive or pre-hypertensive. These measures include:
- Weight reduction and regular aerobic exercise (e.g., walking) are recommended as the first steps in treating mild to moderate hypertension, although drug therapy is still necessary for many patients with moderate or severe hypertension to bring their blood pressure down to a safe level.
- Reducing dietary sugar intake.
- Reducing salt in the diet may be effective; it decreases blood pressure in about 33% of people.
- Additional dietary changes beneficial to reducing blood pressure; which is rich in fruits and vegetables and low-fat or fat-free dairy foods.
- Discontinuing tobacco use and alcohol consumption has been shown to lower blood pressure.
- Reducing stress.
Consult with your doctor; the aim of treatments should be blood pressure control to 140/90 mmHg for most patients, and lower in certain contexts such as diabetes or kidney disease.
Date: January 5th, 2010