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Hypertension: Putting the pressure on a preventable risk factor
Omar P. Haqqani, MD
Midland Daily News
March 19, 2017
Hypertension (HT), more commonly referred to as high blood pressure (HBP), is one of the leading patient conditions that attributes to the development of certain vascular conditions.
Though high blood pressure itself does not cause any symptoms, long-term sufferers from HT are put at a major risk for many conditions, including abdominal aortic aneurysm, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease.
If you’ve seen a doctor at least once in your lifetime, you’ve more than likely had your blood pressure examined.
A doctor or specialist places an inflatable cuff around the arm, using a pressure-measuring gauge to determine blood pressure. Blood pressure readings are given through a pair of numbers.
The first number (the higher/top number) is a measure of the compression in arteries when the heartbeats, known as systolic pressure, while the second number (the lower/bottom number) is a measure of the compression in the arteries when beats take place, or the diastolic pressure.
If the overall number is below 120/80 mm Hg (or millimeters of mercury), then the blood pressure reading is considered normal.
However, if the blood pressure numbers reach outside of this range, it means the patient could fall into one of the three general categories for HBP.
If systolic pressure ranges from 120 to 139 mm Hg, or diastolic pressure ranges from 80 to 89 mm Hg, then blood pressure registers for prehypertension – a condition that typically worsens over time.
If systolic pressure ranges from 140 to 159 mm Hg, or diastolic pressure ranges from 90 to 99 mm Hg, then blood pressure registers for Stage 1 hypertension. If systolic pressure continues to extend between 160 and 179 mm Hg, or diastolic pressure ranges from 100 to 109 mm Hg, then blood pressure registers for Stage 2 hypertension.
Anything over 180 mm Hg for systolic pressure or 110 mm Hg for diastolic pressure registers for Stage 3 hypertension, and is considered hypertensive emergency.
Prehypertension is the onset of early findings of HT that haven’t yet developed into Stage 1 or Stage 2 – the former develops spontaneously from an unknown cause, while the latter is the result of a prior risk factor.
When prehypertension is developed, lifestyle changes are often prescribed to patients who are diagnosed, such as increasing exercise, or managing body weight by adding more fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy products into their diet.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm is one of the numerous vascular conditions that can be caused as a result of hypertension.
Because high blood pressure is able to cause damage to the aorta’s walls over time, the weakened walls naturally enlarge and start to bulge, which is the aneurysm starting to take form.
If gone unchecked, the aneurysm can rupture, cause internal bleeding, and result in death.
High blood pressure that goes without control can also weaken and damage the brain’s blood vessels, which can rupture, narrow, or leak as a result. This, mixed with HT’s ability to produce blood clots that can form in carotid arteries leading to the brain, can result in a stroke.
Both of these conditions, however, have a number of surgical and non-surgical options available to help combat the side effects brought on through them.
When it comes to stroke, former patients at Vascular Health Clinics have seen incredible success with both angioplasty and carotid endarterectomy to help alleviate symptoms, as well as restore blood flow.
Some lifestyle risk factors can contribute to the development of either form of hypertension.
The development of high blood pressure increases as one ages, from not being physically active, being obese or overweight, using tobacco, drinking too much alcohol, partaking in a high-sodium diet, or having high levels of stress, as well as others.
While it’s no secret that hypertension can be a contributing factor to a multitude of vascular health problems, it’s important to also be aware of the ways one can control the condition’s risk factors to benefit their own life.
To learn more about how to control hypertension as a risk factor for vascular disease, visit vascularhealthclinics.org.
Dr. Omar P. Haqqani is the Chief of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at Vascular Health Clinics in Midland.
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