There are many things you simply accept at face value, such as the fact that high blood pressure is bad. But do you know why, exactly, we’re so concerned about your blood pressure?
All too often, assumptions are made that people know what we're talking about when we discuss hypertension, especially since the condition affects nearly half of adults in the United States.
Instead of making this assumption, Dr. Satjit Bhusri and the team here at Upper East Side Cardiology want to get back to basics. Hypertension is often referred to as a silent killer, but we want to be loud and clear about his potentially dangerous condition.
Explaining blood pressure numbers
Let’s kick off this discussion by reviewing what we mean by blood pressure. As the name suggests, this is a measurement that assesses the pressure your blood places against the walls of your arteries.
When we take your blood pressure reading, we measure two things:
- Systolic pressure — the pressure during a heartbeat
- Diastolic pressure — the pressure between heartbeats
When it comes to readings, the top number is systolic and the bottom is diastolic. We want to see numbers that are below 120/80. If your systolic blood pressure falls between 120-129, we consider this to be borderline hypertension. High blood pressure is 130 and up for the systolic and 80 and up for the diastolic.
The damage brought by high blood pressure
Now, let’s get to the heart of this discussion, which is why high blood pressure is bad. Under normal circumstances, your heart beats 60-100 times a minute, every minute of the day, which means your blood vessels are under constant pressure to circulate blood.
Hypertension adds to this already heavy workload, and the extra pressure can cause damage to the sensitive and fragile linings of your arteries. Once the linings of your arteries start to fray, the uneven surfaces can trap cholesterol, which can turn into plaque deposits inside your blood vessels.
This plaque buildup is dangerous for two reasons:
- Plaque buildup causes narrowing in the blood vessels, which compromises blood flow
- Plaque can break off, travel through the bloodstream, and get caught in an artery where it blocks blood flow and leads to a heart attack or stroke
To put some numbers to this, someone in the United States has a heart attack every 40 seconds, and high blood pressure is a major contributor to this alarming statistic.
Lowering your blood pressure
There is a major bright spot when it comes to high blood pressure — you can take steps to lower your blood pressure, such as:
- Going on medications
- Exercising more
- Cutting back on sodium
- Eating healthier foods
Depending on your blood pressure readings, we can customize a plan that will lower your blood pressure in no time and improve your overall health.
If you have more questions about high blood pressure or you’d like to get started on lowering your numbers, please contact our New York City office on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to set up an appointment. You can also call (212) 752-3464.