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Hypertension 101

Let me ask you a question:Would you drive your truck down the road with too much air in your tires? I am sure your answer was 'No!' Just like your tires, your arteries have an ideal operating pressure...




Let me ask you a question:Would you drive your truck down the road with too much air in your tires? I am sure your answer was ‘No!’ Just like your tires, your arteries have an ideal operating pressure and if you increase the pressure too much, problems will arise. Blood pressure is simply a measure of the volume of blood your heart has to pump and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. Basically, the more blood your heart has to pump and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.

Most people live with high blood pressure for many years without being aware of it. However, if elevated blood pressure goes undetected for too long, it can increase your risk of serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Generally, people do not experience many symptoms until their blood pressure reaches dangerous levels. At that point, they may complain of headaches, dizzy spells or frequent nosebleeds. If you regularly experience these symptoms, it is important to consult with your doctor as soon as possible. If you are unable to get into your regular doctor’s office, try getting into a local walk-in clinic or even a drug store as many of them have blood pressure gauges.

There are two main categories of hypertension: primary; and secondary. The majority of people have primary hypertension. This type of hypertension has no identifiable cause and tends to develop gradually over years. Secondary hypertension is caused by an underlying condition such as kidney and heart disorders.

Scientists have identified several risk factors for hypertension, some of which you can control and others you can not. Age, race and family are among the risk factors that you can not control. As for the others, firstly, maintaining a health body weight is essential. The more you weigh the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues.

Physical activity will not only help keep your weight down but will also strengthen your heart which in turn will reduce your blood pressure. A major risk factor of concern for truck drivers is the use of tobacco. Tobacco not only immediately raises your blood pressure but also damages the walls of your arteries causing them to become narrower.

Uncontrolled hypertension can lead to many health conditions involving the organs of the body as well as the cardiovascular system. Aneurysms and heart failure are common with excessive blood pressure which is sustained over a long period of time. Other problems such as reduced brain function and eye and kidney complications are also concerns of hypertension.

Blood pressure is usually taken using an inflatable arm cuff and a pressure gauge. Your health care professional will measure two numbers. The first number is called ‘systolic pressure’ and it measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The second number is called ‘diastolic pressure’ and it measures the amount of pressure in your arteries between heart beats. Ideal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg. Once your blood pressure reaches 140/90, you are in Stage 1 hypertension and once you reach 160/100 mm Hg you are in Stage 2 hypertension.

Lifestyle modification can greatly reduce your blood pressure. However, sometimes changing your lifestyle is not enough. In that case, your doctor will prescribe medications to help bring your blood pressure down to normal limits.

– Dr. Chris Singh, B. Kin., D. C., runs Trans-Canada Chiropractic at 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont.


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