Blood Pressure 102: Hypertension

Most of us are familiar with the term Hypertension or High Blood Pressure and it is a term that is often used to emphasize the stress of a situation. You may hear someone say something like, “Don’t do that! You’re getting my blood pressure up! Or, Boy that was crazy! My blood pressure probably went through the roof!” We often laugh at stressful situations but are these statements just a play on words about our health or is there some truth to them?

There are gold standard measurements for blood pressure readings; guidelines that we use to determine whether someone actually has hypertension. In general, a blood pressure reading of 120/80 is considered a normal pressure. Readings from 120/80 to 140/90 can be considered pre-hypertensive; 140/90 to 160/90 and higher can be considered hypertensive and these readings can be broken down further into Stage 1 and Stage 2. It is important to understand that these numbers by themselves do not necessarily indicate a problem.

First, a blood pressure constantly changes and is a fluid piece of information. It can be affected by stress, diet, and emotional state. When we encounter a patient having high readings during their office visit we usually recommend that they take readings at home for one to two weeks in the morning before any of the daily stresses have set in and again in the afternoon so we can compare the readings. Second, it is important to understand that there is much more that goes into a diagnosis and a treatment plan for hypertension than just a number. This is why annual visits with your Primary Care Provider are so important. By obtaining a thorough history from our patients and understanding their lifestyles we can identify the probable cause of elevated blood pressures and tailor a treatment regimen. This can but does not always have to involve medication. Finally, it is important to understand that measuring blood pressures is one of many tools in our primary care bag to help prevent heart disease, stroke, and many other problems.

We encourage you to come talk to us today about maintaining your health with annual preventative screenings. Call Eldorado Family Health anytime to make an appointment at 505-216-7772.

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