What is hypertension?
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is determined by a couple of different factors — the amount of blood that flows through your arteries and the resistance the blood encounters. The narrower your arteries, the harder it is for the blood to flow. The result can be high blood pressure.
Unfortunately, hypertension often has no symptoms. That’s why it’s often called a silent killer. Left untreated, hypertension can cause a heart attack or stroke.
How is hypertension diagnosed?
Dr. Rafiq can tell if you have hypertension by measuring your blood pressure. The first step is to wrap a cuff around your upper arm. He then inflates it and slowly lets the air out while listening to your pulse and watching a gauge. The gauge measures your blood pressure using a scale called millimeters to mercury, or mmHg.
Two numbers determine your blood pressure. The first, systolic pressure, measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The second, diastolic, measures the pressure when your heart is at rest. Normal blood pressure is 120 over 80 mmHg. If your blood pressure reaches 130 over 80 mm, then you have hypertension.
What causes hypertension?
Many factors contribute to hypertension. Genetics can play a role, as can lifestyle choices. If you have other medical conditions, such as diabetes, you may be at higher risk for hypertension.
How is hypertension treated?
Treatment begins with making changes to your lifestyle. Dr. Rafiq recommends eating a diet low in sodium and high in potassium. Bananas, potatoes, beans, and yogurt are good sources of potassium.
Exercise is also important. By walking, jogging, or swimming for 30 minutes at least five days a week, you can go a long way toward keeping your blood pressure down. A diet like this also helps prevent obesity, another risk factor for hypertension.
Stress can contribute to hypertension too. You may find strategies such as yoga or meditation effective for reducing stress.
Despite all your best efforts, sometimes medication is still needed. Many medications are available to treat this condition. Dr. Rafiq may prescribe a combination of diuretics, beta blockers, and channel agonists to lower your blood pressure. In some cases, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors may be added to the mix. These medications help relax your heart and blood vessels.
Dr. Rafiq will work with you to develop the most effective treatment plan. Set up an appointment by phone or online today.