HYPERTENSION: High Blood Pressure
How High is High?
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters (mm) of mercury. This dates back to the days when all sphygmomanometers used a column of mercury to record the pressure. The medical world today divides blood pressure readings into four levels of risk as shown here:
Notice that the safest blood pressure range is characterized by an average systolic pressure of 120 mm of mercury or lower, and an average diastolic pressure of 80 mm or lower, at rest. Every person should strive to get his or her resting blood pressure into this “120/80 mm or less” range. Higher pressures carry increased risks of disease and premature death. However, the most careful research suggests that lowering the diastolic blood pressure below 80 further lowers one’s risk of heart attack and stroke. In fact, there is no threshold at which further lowering of diastolic blood pressure (DBP) does not give further lowering of risk of both heart disease and stroke. For example, a DBP of 70 is better than 80. A diastolic reading of 60 is better still.
Control of blood pressure begins with knowing what your blood pressure is. Do not assume that just because you feel fine you are free of a blood pressure problem. High blood pressure is indeed called “the silent killer.” It has this name because serious disability or death is often the very first symptom of hypertension. Many people will never realize that their blood pressure is high unless they get it checked by a doctor, go to a screening program, or get a blood pressure instrument and check it themselves. In fact, it is common for people to feel fine with blood pressures of 200/100 or even higher. Indeed, you may feel great while being unwittingly on the verge of a disaster such as a sudden stroke or heart attack, or gradual kidney damage with resulting renal failure down the road.*
*Above Reference in whole or in part is from the book "Proof Possitive" by Neil Nedley, M.D.
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