Doctor Checking Blood Pressure of a Patient

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension affects more than 25% of adult population1Journal of Hypertension: October 2018 – Volume 36 – Issue 10 – p 1953–2041, doi: 10.1097/HJH.0000000000001940, GUIDELINES in Europe.  It is a significant factor in increasing the risk of chronic kidney disease, vascular disease, myocardial infarction, and stroke.  Therefore, the European Society of Hypertension (ESH) issued updated guidelines in 2018 to improve hypertension treatment.

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension occurs when there is a drastic increase in your blood pressure.  Your blood pressure is dependent on the work your heart is doing, as well as the blood vessels’ resistance.  Having high blood pressure means that your blood is applying a high amount of force against the walls of your blood vessels.  

Hypertension is also referred to as a silent killer, as in many cases, it comes with no warning symptoms or signs.  Over time, the pressure buildup results in the accumulation of damage that can be too much for your circulatory system to handle.  This results in severe health issues such as Coronary Artery Disease, Heart Failure, Dementia and Stroke.

Blood Pressure Numbers

In order to fully interpret your blood pressure readings, it is essential to understand how blood pressure is measured. Blood pressure can be measured by the following two numbers:

Systolic Number

The systolic number is the top number in a blood pressure reading. While your heart is beating, it transfers blood through your arteries as it squeezes. The force with which your blood travels throughout the body creates a certain pressure on your blood vessels.  The amount of pressure in your arteries during the contraction of your heart muscle is called the systolic number.

Diastolic Number

The diastolic number is the bottom number in a blood pressure reading.  It indicates the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats; the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.  It is during this time that the heart fills with blood and gets oxygen.

Both these numbers are measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).

Blood Pressure Categories

Your blood pressure categories are as follows:

Blood Pressure Categories European Society of Caridology / European Society of Hypertension Guidelines
  Systolic Measurement   Diastolic Measurement
Optimal <120 and <80
Normal 120-129 and/or 80-84
High-Normal 130-139 and/or 85-89
Grade 1 Hypertension 140-159 and/or 90-99
Grade 2 Hypertension 160-179 and/or 100-109
Grade 3 Hypertension ≥180 and/or ≥110
Isolated Systolic Hypertension ≥140 and <90

These updated guidelines are expected to ensure early detection and intervention of hypertension.  According to the new recommendations, blood pressure lowering drugs such as ACE inhibitors, angiotensin-2 receptor blockers (ARB) or calcium channel blockers should be offered to patients with 10% or more risk of cardiovascular disease.  

Due to these updated guidelines, major positive changes could be made in the lives of hypertension patients and reduce blood pressure issues linked with age. The major aim of these new changes is to improve the process of management and detection of hypertension over the next ten years. While hypertension is common among adults, young individuals and children are also at risk.  The major cause of hypertension among youngsters is unhealthy lifestyle, including lack of physical activity and poor diet.  It is essential to start taking the right measures to prevent hypertension early on by making positive lifestyle changes such as adding regular exercise to your daily routine and eating foods that help to lower blood pressure.  Moreover, it is highly recommended that you consult your doctor to discuss the right preventive measures and treatments for hypertension.