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I'm sure there cannot be many of us who have never heard of high blood pressure or hypertension, but how many of us take the time to find out what exactly high blood pressure is and what are its causes? In this short article I hope to provide brief and to the point answers to both of those questions and hopefully also impress on you the importance of getting regular BP checks. The terms hypertension and high blood pressure are interchangeable and are normally grouped into two types: Essential High Blood Pressure - The causes of this type of hypertension are not really known, but it is usually considered to be linked to certain background risk factors such as increasing age, heavy drinking, smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet. Secondary High Blood Pressure - This type of hypertension actually has a direct causal link back to a specific health condition or external influence. This can be such things as narrowing of the arteries, diseases such as kidney disease, certain drugs and medications (both prescribed and illegal) and alcohol abuse. In order to understand what hypertension actually is I would like you to imagine a water filled balloon connected to a length of half inch diameter hose pipe. Squeeze the balloon and you will feel a small amount of resistance, but the water will easily be expressed out of the pipe. Now repeat the same thing with the hose pipe replace by a length of quarter inch diameter tube, and you will notice that to express the water out of the balloon now requires much greater pressure and that this puts a greater strain on the balloon itself. From the above example you can hopefully get a picture of the increased amount of work that the heart has to do in order to pump blood around our bodies if our arteries become clogged and narrowed, and the amount of extra strain on the heart that this can cause. Equally, any medical condition or external influence which causes our heart rate to be significantly increased will also place much more strain on the heart. With this in mind it is of vital importance that we regularly monitor our blood pressure and take action if any unhealthy trends are uncovered. If you have ever had your blood pressure measured, you will probably have seen the results written down as two figures, but what exactly do these figures mean? The numbers actually represent systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Systolic Blood Pressure - This is defined as the pressure that is exerted when the heart beats.

Diastolic Blood Pressure - This is defined as the background pressure that is exerted between heart beats. You will typically see these two measurements written down as a combined figure such as 120/80 (spoken as 120 over 80). The systolic figure is usually presented first and the diastolic second. 120/80 is generally considered to be a healthy measurement, but your actual figures will vary on a day to day basis dependent on a variety of factors. It is only if you consistently record measurements in excess of 140/90 that you would be considered to be suffering from hypertension. In the past getting your blood pressure measured usually meant a visit to your doctor, these days however, many people also carry out their own measurements. This is particularly helpful for the many people who experience stress due to the actual visit to the doctor, as this can cause inaccuracy in the results. There are a huge range of blood pressure measuring devices available at prices to suit most budgets. These days, measuring devices are usually electronic and don't contain the dangerous mercury which was previously used. If you are under treatment from your doctor for a blood pressure condition, it may also be possible to calibrate your home equipment against your doctor's to ensure consistency of measurements. It is highly important to our prolonged good health that we get regular BP checks, but luckily it has never been easier for us to do this. By regularly monitoring our blood pressure, whether at home, or with regular health checks, we can spot any dangerous trends and take action at an early stage to prevent problems from developing.

If you would like to read more about health matters, I also own and write for the website: You may also find the following article of interest:

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