Expert Author Duncan Smith

When your physician told you that you had high blood pressure did you understand what he was saying. No doubt you heard the numbers defining the levels of your pressure and that they placed you in a category above normal but did you understand what it was all about or did your doctor take the time to explain everything to you. Often being told you have hypertension is quite a traumatic event, not on a par with being told you have cancer or some other life threatening disease, but traumatic nevertheless. Although it can indeed be life threatening. It just never appears as being an imminent threat. We always think we have time which is really crazy because you never know when a heart attack or stroke might hit you especially if you have had it for a while.

It is often only when you get home that it begins to sink in and you begin thinking of all the questions you should have asked at the time. What does this mean? How does that affect me? You know, all those sorts of questions. To help you out here are some of the more common terms used when talking about high blood pressure.

  • Hypotension - this means you have low blood pressure.
  • Hypertension - this is the same as saying you have high blood pressure and refers to measurements above 140/90.
  • Systolic Pressure - systolic pressure is the force, experienced by the walls of your arteries, when the heart beats pushing the blood around your body. This is measured in terms of millimeters of mercury.
  • Diastolic Pressure - diastolic pressure is the force, experienced by your artery walls, of the blood moving around your body when your heart is at rest between beats and is measured in millimetres of mercury.
  • Artery - the blood vessel that carries oxygenated blood away from the heart and to the muscles, tissue and organs.
  • Veins - the blood vessels that carry de-oxygenated blood back to the heart and lungs for refreshing.
  • Blood Pressure - this is the force experienced by the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps the blood around your body. It is measured and expressed in terms of systolic pressure over diastolic pressure. The ranges are described as Optimal 115/75 or less, Normal less than 120/80, Prehypertension 120-139/80-89, Stage 1 140-159/90-99 and Stage 2 more than 160/more than 100. If only one of your measurements, systolic or diastolic, is in one of the categories above normal then you will be considered overall to be in that category.

These are just a few of the basic terms that will help you understand your high blood pressure better. Once you have a better understanding of whats going on you will be in a better position to ask more informed questions the next time you visit your doctor.

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