Blood Pressure

Blood pressure has gotten a bad rap. Some pressure is essential for circulation. Without it, blood couldn't move from the heart to the brain and the toes and back again. The heart provides the driving force — each contraction of the left ventricle, the heart's main pumping chamber, creates a wave of pressure that passes through all the arteries in the body. Relaxed and flexible arteries offer a healthy amount of resistance to each pulse of blood.

But too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Arteries that are tensed, constricted, or rigid offer more resistance. This shows up as higher blood pressure, and it makes the heart work harder. This extra work can weaken the heart muscle over time. It can damage other organs, like the kidneys and the eyes. And the relentless pounding of blood against the walls of arteries causes them to become hard and narrow, potentially setting the stage for a heart attack or stroke.

Most people with high blood pressure (known medically as hypertension) don't know they have it. Hypertension has no symptoms or warning signs. Yet it can be so dangerous to your health and well-being that it has earned the nickname "the silent killer." When high blood pressure is accompanied by high cholesterol and blood sugar levels, the damage to the arteries, kidneys, and heart accelerates exponentially.

High blood pressure is preventable. Daily exercise, following a healthy diet, limiting your intake of alcohol and salt, reducing stress, and not smoking are keys to keeping blood pressure under control. When it creeps into the unhealthy range, lifestyle changes and medications can bring it down.

Blood Pressure Articles

Taming stubbornly high blood pressure

As many as one in seven people being treated for high blood pressure doesn’t have the condition under control. Many cases of this problem, known as resistant hypertension, occur because people don’t take their medications as directed, usually because of side effects. Sometimes, habits such as consuming too much sodium, which counteracts the effects of certain blood pressure drugs, are to blame. In other cases, other medical problems such as renal artery stenosis or obstructive sleep apnea may contribute to the problem. More »

Why has my sense of taste changed?

Losing some sense of taste often happens with older age, but you should consider what else might be causing it. Blocked nasal passages from allergies or a sinus infection and even one of your medications might be a factor. Addressing these issues with your doctor, including switching to a different drug, may help. (Locked) More »

Which blood pressure number is important?

While both numbers in a blood pressure reading are essential for diagnosing and treating high blood pressure, doctors primarily focus on the top number (systolic pressure), as a higher number carries a greater risk of heart attack and stroke. More »

Avoid these common blood pressure measuring mistakes

During a blood pressure measurement, seven common errors can artificially elevate a person’s reading. They include sitting incorrectly, having an unsupported arm, using the wrong size blood pressure cuff, and engaging in conversation during the measurement. Current guidelines also recommend averaging two blood pressure readings taken a minute apart if the first reading indicates high blood pressure (defined as 130/80 mm Hg or higher). (Locked) More »

Virtual visits and high blood pressure

It appears that people who have “virtual” office visits over the Internet are able to control their blood pressure just as well as people who have in-person follow-up office visits. More »