July 2008: Recognizing Hypertension
01 Jul 2008
Dr. Martin A. Glochowsky is board certified in internal medicine and is a member of Lakefront Medical Associates located at Weiss Memorial Hospital. His interests lie in high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, sleep apnea, preventive medicine and high cholesterol.
Dr. Martin A. Glochowsky
Lakefront Medical Associates
Weiss Memorial Hospital
Hypertension is a medical term meaning high blood pressure. Hypertension is a very common condition in adults that gets more common with age. While hypertension is more likely to occur in people who are overweight or who have a parent, brother or sister with hypertension, it can occur as you get older even if you are not overweight, do not have a family history of it, and even if your blood pressure has previously always been normal.
Recognizing high blood pressure
Contrary to what many people think, your blood pressure does not have to correlate with how you feel. You could feel great and still have high blood pressure, or you could feel stressed-out and terrible and have normal blood pressure.
According to the American Heart Association, about one in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, but because there are no symptoms, nearly one-third of these people don't know they have it.
The highest blood pressure reading I have ever seen in 25 years of practicing medicine occurred in a man who had no symptoms. His top number was so high that it went beyond what is measured by the blood pressure cuff. All we could determine was that it was over 300. He had no symptoms, but his blood pressure indicated that his health was a disaster waiting to happen.
Normal blood pressure
Adult blood pressure should be under 130/85, and even lower for patients with diabetes or kidney disease. Both numbers are important and both should be within normal range. The systolic pressure (top number) is the pressure of blood in the vessels when the heart contracts. The diastolic pressure (bottom number) is the pressure of the blood between heartbeats, when the heart is at rest and is refilling. It only takes either the top or the bottom number being high—not both—to have high blood pressure.
If not detected, or if left chronically untreated, hypertension can lead to a heart attack or stroke that probably could have been prevented if the blood pressure had been controlled. All adults should get their blood pressure checked periodically, even if they feel fine. There is no consensus on how often it should be checked, but I would advise at least every two to three years at the very least. Scheduling an annual physical is a good way to monitor your health over time and help identify health issues before they become a problem.
For more information
If you would like more information about hypertension, or would like to schedule an appointment to see a physician, call Lakefront Medical Associates at (773) 564-5355.