Hypertension: How High Is Too High?

Statistics show one of every three to four adults will be inflicted with a silent and possibly fatal disease that affects the heart and blood vessels.


Statistics show one of every three to four adults will be inflicted with a silent and possibly fatal disease that affects the heart and blood vessels.  A person is diagnosed with hypertension (more commonly referred to as “high blood pressure”) when any blood pressure reading is at 140/90 or higher.  Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries and it is recorded as two numbers—the systolic pressure (as the heart beats) over the diastolic pressure (as the heart relaxes between beats). The measurement is expressed as systolic over diastolic (i.e., 140/90).  Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg.

High blood pressure increases your risk for getting heart disease and for having a stroke, which are the first and third leading causes of death among Americans.  It is especially dangerous because it often has no warning signs or symptoms.  Regardless of race, age, or gender, anyone can develop high blood pressure.  Once high blood pressure develops, it usually lasts a lifetime.

Although most hypertension cases can not be attributed to any one particular cause, the remaining cases have controllable causes or risk factors.  One such risk factor is tobacco.  When the drug, nicotine, is ingested or inhaled through the tobacco, it causes constriction of the blood vessels, which in turn raises blood pressure.  Smokers develop hypertension at a rate eight to ten times faster than their non-smoking counterparts.  

Another avoidable risk factor is the over use of salt in the diet.  Although there is still a lot of experimentation with exactly how salt affects blood pressure, there has been a considerable amount of evidence to show a decrease in blood pressure in hypertension patients who decrease their salt intake to less than a teaspoon per day.  On the other hand, foods that are rich in potassium (bananas, raisins, orange juice, spinach, lima beans, tomatoes to name a few) help to prevent and control blood pressure.  

Living a sedentary lifestyle is yet another controllable risk factor of hypertension.  Regular exercise in hypertension patients will reduce blood pressure.  This may be related to the corresponding weight loss or stress reduction, but either way the patient benefits.  Even if these measures do not return blood pressure to a normal range, they can enhance the effectiveness of medications prescribed to treat it.  

Other hypertension patients are not so fortunate in being physically able to prevent or control their high blood pressure.  Malfunctioning kidneys are one such uncontrollable cause.  Some patients who have severe renal dysfunction develop hypertension because a large portion of total kidney tissue is destructed.  Kidneys receiving less than adequate blood supply then release an enzyme, with the end result being a rise in blood pressure.  A patient with this condition or other uncontrollable causes can be treated with medications, surgery, and/or dialysis, in addition to the diet and lifestyle modifications described above.

It is important to monitor your blood pressure regularly.  Next time you have it taken, be sure to ask what the reading is so you can have a better sense of it for yourself.  If your blood pressure is between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg, then you have prehypertension. This means that you do not have high blood pressure now, but are likely to develop it in the near future.  People who have normal blood pressure, prehypertension or hypertension—all have reason to start living a healthier lifestyle now.

Conshohocken Physical Therapy is not an ordinary Physical Therapy clinic. We believe in changing your life. We are driven by the desire to make a positive impact, both personally and therapeutically, on every person who enters our office.

You will experience pain relief, improved motion and a greater quality of life. Our approach is friendly, evidence-based and innovative and our Doctors of Physical Therapy have the most specialized training in treating your body.

Learn more about Conshohocken Physical Therapy by visiting us online at www.conshypt.com.


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michael mirra January 02, 2013 at 06:15 PM
I was diagnosed with high blood presure about a year & a half ago. It went up to about 165/95. My doctor put me on Lisinipril & that brought it down, but I watched my salt, & began walking three times a week untill I was up to about 10 miles a week. I lost about 50 lb & stopped taking the medicine. My presure went down to about 125/70 without medicine. I however got lazy & stopped walking & watching my salt. I gained back about 10 lbs & my presure is back at 150/80. It's all about lifestyle & getting serious about it. I also don't smoke, or drink, which helps. I did smoke synthetic pot for awhile & that brought it up too. After I stopped that it went back down.
Conshohocken Physical Therapy January 18, 2013 at 07:46 PM
Lifestyle changes can be extremely effective in helping to manage high blood pressure. Eating right and exercise is a prescription for everyone!


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