By Vicki G. Mozo
Biology Online Contributor
Hypertension is a clinical term for the high blood pressure. An individual is said to have hypertension when blood pressure is higher than the normal range most of the time. A normal blood pressure is when most of the time the blood pressure readings are 120/80 mmHg (or slightly lower).
Blood pressure measurement is comprised of two components: the systolic blood pressure, which is the pressure reading when the heart pumps blood, and the diastolic blood pressure, which is the pressure reading when the heart is at rest (not pumping blood). The systolic blood pressure is that part of blood pressure measurement that may vary depending on the type and extent of physical activities that a person is doing. Mental stress due to work, for instance, can lead to increased blood pressure at values beyond the normal (e.g. 122/80 mmHg). Physical activity or workout can also elevate a person’s blood pressure to as high as 150/80 mmHg. However, high blood pressure in a healthy person can easily return to normal through physiological mechanisms. But when it remains high for over a long period of time and occurs frequently, then, it can be hypertension. Blood pressure readings of 140/90 mmHg or above most of the time is clear indication of hypertension. If the readings are mostly above the normal but below 140/90 it is referred to as pre-hypertension.
Hypertension — a silent killer
Hypertension is sometimes described as a ”silent killer” because it is symptomless. The person may not be aware that he or she is hypertensive because most of the times there are no clear signs. As a result, hypertension may lead to more serious health conditions while the hypertensive individual is unaware of it.
Hypertension, when chronic, affects important body organs. The most commonly affected organs are the heart and kidneys. Hypertension can lead to heart failure as well as kidney failure. Damage to these organs largely involves damage to tiny vessels that greatly obstructs smooth flow of blood to these organs. This is also the underlying cause of stroke when a significant part of the brain is unable to receive adequate blood and oxygen supply due to blockage of arteries. Pregnant women are also in danger of preeclampsia when she is hypertensive. The growth and birth weight of the fetus in her womb are also significantly affected.
Hypertension and risk factors
There are different risk factors that increase the chances of hypertension. Some of them are sedentary lifestyle, lack of physical activity, family history of hypertension, consumption of alcohol, high intake of salty foods, and smoking.
Knowing what is hypertension is important so that the condition can be managed or controlled as soon as possible. In that way, the chances of developing health complications due to hypertension may be avoided soon.
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