Blood Pressure Introduction

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Blood Pressure Introduction

Doctors talk about high blood pressure, or hypertension, all the time. Everyone knows that high blood pressure is bad for you and can lead to numerous health problems. The healthcare industry as a whole spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year on medications and other treatments for high blood pressure. Yet, do you really know what it is and why it really is bad for you?

What Is Blood Pressure?

What Is Blood PressureThe definition of blood pressure is “pressure that is exerted by the blood upon the walls of the blood vessels and especially arteries…” It is basically the force with which blood pushes outward on the walls of the vessels. The larger the force, the more work the vessel walls must do contain it.

Blood pressure is dependent on two main factors: 1) the speed and strength of the heart’s beating and 2) contraction of muscles in the blood vessel walls (yes, vessel walls are mostly muscle, arteries more than veins). These two factors are, in turn, controlled by internal and external influences, including hormones, medications, drugs, alcohol, exercise, stress, and salt intake among many others.

Why Is High Blood Pressure Bad?

“Hypertension is the most important modifiable risk factor for coronary heart disease (the leading cause of death in North America), stroke (the third leading cause), congestive heart failure, end-stage renal disease, and peripheral vascular disease.”1 It can and should be controlled!

Unfortunately, a 2005 survey in the United States found that in the male population aged 20 years or older, over 40 million men have prehypertension, over 12 million men have stage 1 hypertension, and over 4 million men have stage 2 hypertension.2 That’s a lot of men, and this high incidence leads to considerable medical expense.

Read On

To learn more about what makes blood pressure go up, what specifically high blood pressure does to the body, what is “normal” or “safe” blood pressure, and therapies to lower blood pressure, select a link below.

1. Riaz K, Batuman V. Hypertension. Medscape Reference; 2012.
2. Qureshi AI, Suri MF, Kirmani JF, Divani AA. Prevalence and trends of prehypertension and hypertension in United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 1976 to 2000. Med Sci Monit. Sep 2005; 11 (9): CR403-409.