As a specialist in internal medicine, Dr. Kelley Stahl at Stahl Primary Care in Cumming, Georgia spends a significant amount of time helping patients find ways to combat high blood pressure. It’s a condition that can have an impact on their overall health and put them at risk for life-threatening medical problems, like heart disease.
Blood pressure is a metric that measures how hard the heart must work to circulate blood. The numbers are affected by how much blood the heart pumps and how much resistance there is in the arteries.
When a patient develops high blood pressure, it means two things:
Blood pressure is broken down into four categories:
The two numbers of a blood pressure reading do mean different things. Blood pressure is the measurement of circulating blood on the walls of blood vessels. The systolic pressure, upper number, is the maximum pressure on the walls during one heartbeat. The diastolic pressure, lower number, is the minimum pressure on the walls during two heart beats. Both numbers are significant -- especially as patients get older -- because they’re influenced by:
These are all indicators of general cardiac health.
Most of the time there’s no underlying cause for hypertension. This is a condition known as primary, or essential, hypertension. It’s age-related, so it develops gradually over the years.
Secondary hypertension refers to high blood pressure with a known underlying cause such as thyroid disease, sleep apnea, or kidney problems. In some cases, medication can lead to secondary hypertension.
There are some risk factors to keep in mind for high blood pressure, though, including:
Having any one of these increases the patient’s risk of developing essential hypertension.
The best treatment is prevention, meaning making lifestyle choices that reduce risk like eating a low-fat, low-salt diet and exercising regularly. If a patient does develop high blood pressure, Dr. Stahl will attempt to manage it by helping them implement healthy life habits and through drug therapy.
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