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Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood against the walls of the arteries. Too much pressure on those walls can damage the arteries and weaken them to the extent that they develop bulges (aneurysms).
Chronic high blood pressure—also known as hypertension—can damage the heart by contributing to coronary artery disease and heart failure, and can also lead to stroke and kidney damage.
If you’re concerned about high blood pressure, WakeMed’s experienced cardiologists can help you on your path to heart health and work with you to develop a personalized care plan.
A number of factors can lead to hypertension, including:
Generally, people with hypertension have no symptoms. As blood pressure increases and stays high for extended periods of time, patients can experience headaches, dizziness and in rare cases, organ damage.
Contact your doctor if you believe you have chronic high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is measured using an inflatable cuff that is wrapped around the upper arm. A gauge on the cuff shows two numbers: the systolic (“top”) number, which indicates the peak blood pressure as the heart beats, and the diastolic (“bottom”) number, which indicates blood pressure when the heart rests between beats.
A variety of factors can affect the reading, and the circumstances under which blood pressure is measured are as important as the numbers themselves. Make sure you’re well rested before you measure your blood pressure.
Blood pressure often varies over the course of a day. Typically, however, here’s how to look at your reading:
Chronic high blood pressure can’t be diagnosed with a single reading. Blood pressure must be measured on at least two different occasions, with a diagnosis based on the average of the multiple readings.
If you suffer from chronic hypertension, your cardiologist might use cardiac imaging to see if it has damaged your heart or coronary arteries. Imaging technologies that may be used include:
People with pre-hypertension generally do not require drug treatment. Instead, they are encouraged to make lifestyle changes that can significantly lower their blood pressure. These changes – when applicable – include:
Patients diagnosed with hypertension typically are urged to make the same lifestyle changes and are prescribed medication to reduce their blood pressure to normal levels.
Medications used to treat high blood pressure include:
If you or someone you know has high blood pressure, we encourage you to make an appointment with one of WakeMed’s experienced cardiologists.
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Raleigh, NC 27610