Hypertension affects about 65 million Americans. It is the medical term for high blood pressure, a measurement of how hard your blood flow is when the heart is beating and in between beats. When the pressure of blood flow through your arteries is hard or high, those arteries can become damaged. If your blood pressure reads as 140 over 90, hypertension is indicated and your doctor will discuss treatment with you.
Anytime the top number or systolic measurement is 140 or higher, hypertension is indicated. Hypertension also is an issue when the bottom number or diastolic measurement is 90 or higher. According to the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute, all levels about 120 over 80 (considered prehypertension) raise your hypertension risk, and it continues to grow as the blood pressure numbers rise.
Treatment with lifestyle changes. Certain lifestyle choices can contribute to hypertension. Eliminating or reducing potentially dangerous habits may help to lower your high blood pressure. If you are diagnosed with hypertension, quit smoking and reduce your alcohol consumption. Diet changes can be lifesaving as well. Limit sodium intake and eat more fruits and vegetables, at least two servings per meal. Limit your red meat and switch to whole grains. Reduce the amount of processed foods you eat, reduce your daily stress and get active. The DASH diet often is prescribed for hypertension patients. DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a heart-healthy eating plan. Never begin a diet or new exercise routine without consulting your physician, however.
Treatment with medications. For some people, lifestyle changes are not enough to lower high blood pressure. Your doctor may prescribe medication to help treat your hypertension. The medications may include but are not limited to alpha or beta blockers, diuretics, ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and vasodilators, which relax blood vessel wall muscles, causing blood pressure to decrease. Some hypertension medications may be combined with another. For example, a diuretic or water pill may be prescribed with another medication.
Remember, your hypertension is unique to you. Never take hypertension medication that has been prescribed for another person. Consult a trusted medical professional before beginning any treatments for hypertension.