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Hypertension refers to high blood pressure. We explain how high blood pressure is diagnosed and treated.

Doctor uses a blood pressure gauge to help diagnose hypertension in his patient
Hypertension is the medical term used to describe high blood pressure. The medical measurement of blood pressure has two values. The first figure denotes the pressure within the arteries when the heart is relaxed (diastolic). The second figure denotes the pressure as the heart pumps (systolic). When these pressures are above a certain figure a diagnosis of hypertension will be given.

Hypertension is normally caused by reduced space in the blood vessels in the body (vascular system). This is a result of plaques forming over time on the inside of the blood vessels. There are numerous risk factors associated with developing hypertension including:

  • Obesity
  • Tobacco use
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Diet high in salt, sugar and certain types of fats
  • Age (hypertension increases with age)
  • Family history of hypertension
  • Physical inactivity

In less common circumstances, other chronic health conditions can make the blood more viscous and, therefore, more difficult for the heart to pump around the vascular system.

Hypertension itself is a silent disease process meaning there are no symptoms of hypertension itself. However, there are well established risk factors for other, potentially catastrophic health problems including:

  • Aortic aneurysm
  • Stroke
  • Ischaemic heart disease
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart failure

Individuals experience significant blood pressure changes throughout the day according to physical exertion, psychological stress and anxiety, the time of day and eating habits. Due to these variables, getting consistent, accurate blood pressure readings is in fact a difficult task. Doctors will often use a combination of blood pressure readings taken in clinic and results from home measurements from patients.

Normal blood pressure is 120/80. If readings are consistently higher than 135/85 then your doctor may diagnose you with hypertension and advise you to commence treatment.

Individuals diagnosed with hypertension should immediately address any lifestyle factors associated with their development of the condition. Our expert doctors, dieticians and physiotherapists are able to provide you with a comprehensive package of lifestyle management advice to reduce your blood pressure.

In many cases our doctors may recommend that alongside lifestyle management changes, regular medication is commenced to lower your blood pressure. There are many forms of medications used, some which reduce the total volume of fluid circulating (diuretics) and others which act on how dilated your blood vessels are.

We will carefully consider your individual circumstances including your lifestyle and any other medical problems before prescribing the most effective medication for your hypertension.


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