Everyone has and needs blood pressure, but high blood pressure is a disease. According to the American Heart Association, 1 in every 3 adults has high blood pressure, also known as HBP or hypertension. The reality is that if you don’t have high blood pressure, someone you know probably does. The good news is that high blood pressure is preventable and correctable. Texas Health wants to make sure you know about this common disease and what it can do to your body if left untreated.

Unfortunately, even though hypertension is common, it is widely misunderstood. Hypertension doesn’t mean that a person is hyper, tense, or stressed. In fact, a person can be a calm, laid-back person and still have high blood pressure. Many people have high blood pressure for years without knowing it. Most of the time, there are no symptoms, but when high blood pressure goes untreated, it damages arteries and vital organs throughout the body. That's why high blood pressure is often called the "silent killer."

To help prevent this silent disease from taking a toll on you, it’s important to get your blood pressure checked during your annual physical exam. The best defense against high blood pressure is to learn your numbers. Getting a blood pressure reading is painless and takes only a few seconds, so don’t put it off. Click here to download a free tool to help you understand your blood pressure readings. You may also want to bring a list of questions to your doctor appointment. Download this handy chart to help you remember the information given and to keep track of your needs.

Hypertension is the term used to describe high blood pressure. Blood pressure readings are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and usually given as two numbers. For example, 120 over 80 (written as 120/80 mmHg). The top number is your systolic pressure, the pressure created when your heart beats. It is considered high if it is consistently over 140. The bottom number is your diastolic pressure, the pressure inside blood vessels when the heart is at rest. It is considered high if it is consistently over 90.

Symptoms:

Most of the time, there are no symptoms of hypertension. However, symptoms that may occur include:

  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Ear noise or buzzing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nosebleed
  • Tiredness
  • Vision changes

If you have a severe headache or any of the symptoms above, see your doctor right away. These may be signs of a complication or dangerously high blood pressure called malignant hypertension.

Treatment:

The goal of treatment is to reduce blood pressure so that you have a lower risk of complications.

There are many different medicines that can be used to treat high blood pressure, including:

  • Alpha blockers
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs)
  • Beta-blockers
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Central alpha agonists
  • Diuretics
  • Renin inhibitors, including aliskiren (Tekturna)
  • Vasodilators

Your doctor may also tell you to exercise, lose weight and follow a healthier diet. If you have pre-hypertension, your doctor may recommend the same lifestyle changes to bring your blood pressure down to a normal range.

Texas Health is committed to providing quality care to heart and vascular patients throughout North Texas and beyond. While various technologies and services are discussed here, not all of our hospitals offer every treatment and diagnostic technology highlighted. Call 1-877-THR-WELL to learn more about heart and vascular services at a Texas Health hospital near you.

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