Hypertension or “high blood pressure” is a common condition of usually middle age that involves elevations of the blood pressure.
Blood pressure is the force of the blood as it flows through the arteries. The blood flows in pulses. Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers. The first number is the maximum blood pressure in the arteries and the second number is the minimum blood pressure. Ideal blood pressure is less than 140 mmHg/90 mmHg.
Elevation of the blood pressure is damaging to the body and, therefore, can result in injury to the blood vessels and to the organ supplied by the blood vessels. Common conditions that can occur a faster rate due to hypertension that is uncontrolled include heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, aneurysms (which can predispose to rupturing of the blood vessels), and circulatory disturbances.
Initial evaluation of hypertension is a careful process. The doctor will normally take several measurements and also allow the patient to make measurements at home and work in his natural settings.
Often numerous non-medication treatments will be advised, including avoidance of salt, reduction in fat with the ideal of weight loss, aerobic exercise, and perhaps reduction in alcohol consumption. If blood pressure remains elevated, it is considered in each patient individually with other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. These other risk factors include diabetes, advancing age, high cholesterol, and smoking.
If the patient’s blood pressure is high enough and the patient is felt to be at enough risk, and conservative measures do not control blood pressure, medication is added.
There are numerous medications nowadays that are once a day and very free of side effects. The treatment of blood pressure is individualized. The ideal situation for the patient is to improve lifestyle, prolong life and reduce side effects.
The individualized treatment of hypertension based on an individual’s other medical problems is the ideal role of the Internal Medicine Specialist.
Authored by: Christopher P. Robben, M.D.