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Hypertension or high blood pressure is a major health problem in today’s world. It is estimated that 35.3 million for men and 38.3 million for women in the United States suffered from hypertension in 2005. Hypertension is often referred to as ‘the silent killer’ and accounts for nearly 6% deaths worldwide.
Though hypertension by itself does not cause any symptoms, untreated high blood pressure can result in complications like stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure and damage to the eyes. If the condition is detected and treated early, such serious complications may be avoided.
Screening for high blood pressure is recommended since the condition is common, the procedure for recording blood pressure is very simple, the patient does not suffer from symptoms till he develops complications and the high blood pressure can be easily controlled with lifestyle changes and medications.
Blood Pressure Screening Procedure
1. How is blood pressure checked?
Blood pressure is checked using an instrument called a sphygmomanometer or blood pressure apparatus. The doctor or health care provider follows the following steps while recording blood pressure:
A cuff is tied around the patient’s arm.
The stethoscope is placed on the artery that runs over the elbow.
The pressure in the cuff is raised to a particular level and then slowly reduced. The sphygmomanometer reading where the heart beats are first heard is recorded as the ‘systolic blood pressure.’
The pressure in the cuff is further lowered to a point where the sound of the heart beats stops. This reading is recorded as the ‘diastolic blood pressure’
A number of automated blood pressure apparatus are now available that permit self recording of one’s blood pressure at home.
The equipment to measure blood pressure in children should have a smaller cuff.
2. When should a person start monitoring his blood pressure?
People over the ages of 18 years are recommended to get their blood pressure checked.
3. How frequently should blood pressure be monitored?
Blood pressure should be checked at least once in two years and every three months if it is detected to be high.
FAQs1. What is a high blood pressure?
Blood pressure varies with age and a number of other factors. However, a systolic blood pressure of more than 140 and a diastolic blood pressure of more than 90 is considered abnormal and the patient is said to suffer from hypertension. The normal blood pressure should be 120/80 mm Hg. The current opinion is that 110/70- is better than 120/80.
2. Which doctor should I see for high blood pressure?
You may consult your general physician for high blood pressure. You may need to consult a cardiologist if the blood pressure is very high or if you suffer from complications.
3. Will I have to take lifelong medications once I am diagnosed?
If your blood pressure is not too high, your doctor may initially advise lifestyle changes and reduction is salt in your diet. If the blood pressure still does not come under control or if it is too high, medications may be needed.
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