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High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the force of your blood against the walls of your arteries is higher than it should be when your heart beats (systolic pressure) or when your heart rests between beats (diastolic pressure). As a result, the heart has to work harder than normal to pump blood to all the different parts of the body. High blood pressure is defined as 140 mm HG/90 mm HG or higher. High blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” because it doesn’t usually cause symptoms until it is extremely high (at which point it can cause severe headaches, vision changes, fatigue, confusion, or nosebleeds). So, while you may feel perfectly fine, high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, peripheral artery disease, vision problems—even premature death. And it’s very common: An estimated one in three adults has high blood pressure, and more than 50 percent of people over the age of 65 have it.
In most cases, high blood pressure cannot be cured, but it can be managed. It’s important to get it under good control by following the treatment plan recommended by your doctor, which usually involves:
Combining these approaches is likely to give you much better results than relying on one. To ensure that your blood pressure is being well controlled by these interventions, you may be advised to measure your blood pressure one or more times a day, using a special home blood pressure monitor, and to track your blood pressure readings in a log.
By following your doctor’s treatment, you can control your blood pressure and enhance the quality of your life and health. Once you begin treatment, your doctor will want to see you regularly to find out how well you’re following recommended lifestyle changes. Your doctor will also want to monitor how well these changes and the medications you’re taking are controlling your blood pressure. You’ll be checked periodically for complications related to hypertension, such as kidney damage, heart damage, and vision changes, as well as conditions, such as diabetes or another hormonal disorder that can make it more challenging to control high blood pressure.
To learn more about how the Visiting Nurse Service of New York can help you manage high blood pressure, click here.