1. What is high blood pressure?
High blood pressure means your blood pressure measurement is higher than the normal readings for the general population. There are two readings of blood pressure that your doctor measures, namely systolic and diastolic pressures. Your systolic pressure is the pressure when your heart pumps the blood to supply your whole body. Your diastolic pressure is the measured pressure when your heart relaxes its muscle and takes blood into it.
Your blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). Your blood pressure is classified as high when your readings are greater than the normal readings at rest, with the upper normal limit of systolic pressure of 140 mmHg and diastolic pressure of 90 mmHg. However, your treating doctor may like to aim to keep your blood pressure at or below 130/80.
2. What causes high blood pressure?
In the majority of the cases about 95%, there is no identified cause for high blood pressure. The other 5% of cases, kidney diseases, heart conditions, endocrine diseases and other rarer medical disorders can cause high blood pressure. Excessive amount of alcohol drinking can also cause high blood pressure. The other causes of high blood pressure are a high-salt diet, smoking, stress, obesity, family history, some illicit drug uses, and sedentary living.
3. Who gets high blood pressure?
Anyone can get high blood pressure. About 15-20% of our adult population in Western countries have high blood pressure. It is also common in people who have a high-salt diet, excessive alcohol intake, smoking, stress, obesity, illicit drug use, lack of physical activities and obesity. Our blood pressure also tends to rise higher when we get older. Please also note that regular exercise at moderation can help improve your high blood pressure.
4. What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
People with high blood pressure usually have no symptoms in the majority of cases. However, a small percentage of people with very high blood pressure can feel headache, tiredness, palpitation, face flushes or unwell when complications of high blood pressure set in.
5. What are the risks of high blood pressure?
People with high blood pressure have higher risk of having heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and kidney failure. High blood pressure in pregnant women can cause convulsion, namely eclampsia.
6. What are the treatments for high blood pressure?
a. Sensible healthy life style measures:
· Healthy diet: follow a healthy balanced, nutritious, low fat diet.
· Salt: use only a little bit of salt in your food. High-salt content in your diet increases your blood pressure.
· Alcohol: moderation of alcohol intake (1-2 standard drinks a day) will help your high blood pressure. However, excessive alcohol intake will worsen your blood pressure.
· Smoking: it is advised that you should not smoke because it also causes many medical conditions like heart disease, stroke, lung and throat and many other cancers.
· Obesity: aim to keep your weight at a healthy level by healthy diet and regular exercise.
· Exercise: regular exercise will help reduce your high blood pressure as well as good for your heart, relieving stress and giving you good sleep.
There are many medications currently available to bring your high blood pressure back to normal. Your treating doctors can advise you on the best fit medications for you and regularly titrate and monitor your blood pressure. It is very important that you take your medications regularly and never stop unless advised by your treating doctor. If you have any questions or queries, you should see your doctor for advice.
7. How often should you have your blood pressure checkup?
Your blood pressure should be checked more frequently and monitored by your doctor when you start your blood pressure medications as advised by your doctor. Once your blood pressure is under control, as recommended by your doctor, a check-up once every 3 months may be sufficient. We know that our blood pressure rises when we get older. Therefore, we advise that you have your blood pressure checked more regularly with your doctor, especially when you are at or above 40 years old.