More than 30 million Americans have high blood pressure (hypertension). Many are unaware they have it because hypertension develops over many years, and there are no symptoms. However, lack of treatment can lead to stroke, kidney, and heart problems. Dr. Jeffrey Ogden of Orem Internal Medicine in Orem, Utah diagnoses hypertension through pressure readings and can help you on the path to treatment. Call or make an appointment online today at Orem Internal Medicine if it has been more than a year since your last blood pressure check.
Blood pressure is a measure of the force with which your heart pushes blood through your arteries.
There are two numbers associated with a pressure reading. The top, or systolic number, is the force exerted in order to start your blood flowing. The bottom, or diastolic number, is how much your heart relaxes between contractions.
Hypertension is often referred to as the silent killer because it does not present with any particular symptoms — less than half of those diagnosed with hypertension are in good control.
High blood pressure (hypertension) is diagnosed when your blood flows through your blood vessels with an inappropriately high force. Optimal blood pressure is 120/80 or less. A reading of 135/85 on multiple checks indicates hypertension.
To get a blood pressure reading, Dr. Ogden places a special sleeve on your upper arm and fills it with air. The sleeve momentarily stops the flow of blood through the artery in your arm and then gradually releases pressure. The machine records the pressure at which the blood first starts to flow again (Systolic Pressure) and the pressure at which flow continues without resistance (Diastolic Pressure).
Hypertension is divided into two types
Benign or “Essential” Hypertension
This is the most common type. Often this is brought on by sedentary lifestyle or excessive stress response. An exaggerated stress response is sometimes referred to as “White Coat” hypertension where the person’s usual blood pressure is normal until they get excessively nervous about their doctor visit. The nervousness drives up the blood pressure reading while in the doctor’s office. Dr. Ogden uses Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring to diagnose this condition — a special cuff takes a reading every 15 minutes during the day for 24 hours.
This is a rarer type that is usually associated with severe illness, like trauma or severe infection.
One cause of Malignant Hypertension is Renal Artery Stenosis. The arteries carrying blood to the kidneys become gradually clogged with cholesterol plaques. The kidneys sense this reduced blood flow as if it were a drop in total body blood pressure. The kidneys can secrete a series of hormones that drive up the total body blood pressure, trying to improve blood flow through the clogged kidney arteries.
Most commonly, high blood pressure, Essential Hypertension, is gradually brought about by poor lifestyle choices. Poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and excessive stimulant use such as caffeine beverages and nicotine contribute significantly.
Once Dr. Ogden determines that you have hypertension, he will likely recommend lifestyle changes that will include dietary change -- including reduced sodium content and decreased stimulant consumption, regular aerobic activity, weight loss, and smoking cessation.
Depending on the severity of your hypertension, medications may be used to assist you in your healthful journey. The important thing is that, as you embark on a plan of dietary change and regular exercise, you are protected from the injurious effects of hypertension. Medications can always be stopped in the future as you make the changes are the true treatment of hypertension.
If it has been some time since your blood pressure has been checked, or you have a family history of hypertension, call or go online today to make an appointment with Dr. Jeffrey Ogden at Orem Internal Medicine in Orem, Utah.