High Blood Pressure

What is High Blood Pressure?

Your blood pressure rises with each heartbeat and falls when your heart relaxes between beats.

Your blood pressure can vary dependent on:

  • Posture
  • Exercise
  • Stress
  • Sleep

Normal blood pressure is typically less than 120 systolic (pumping) / 80 diastolic (resting) mm Hg for an adult age 20 or over. It is during the diastolic phase that the heart infuses the blood with oxygen.

High blood pressure, also known as Hypertension, is a condition measured when the ‘pumping’ force of the blood against the artery walls is high.

This is reflected by the range of the two numbers typically between 140/90 (high) - 180/120 (very high).

Who is affected by High Blood Pressure

32% of Australians over the age 18 have a systolic reading of 140 mm Hg or higher.

How does High Blood Pressure Affect You?

High blood pressure makes it harder for your heart to pump blood through your body. Where high blood pressure goes untreated it can cause damage to your body's blood vessels. This can start with your fine arteries but then lead to damaged to all arteries and veins. The damaged blood vessels can become malformed, harden and leak.

Loss of vascular efficiency and the formation of blood clots can give rise to:

  • Mental Impairment
  • Aneurysm
  • Stroke
  • Heart Failure
  • Kidney Disease

Causes of High Blood Pressure?

There are many causes of blood pressure problems some are:

  • Genetics or family history
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Diet, especially high salt and alcohol consumption
  • Stress and lack of sleep
  • Older age

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure typically has no symptoms.

Occasionally, people with chronic high blood pressure might have symptoms such as:

  • Dull headaches
  • Dizzy spells
  • Frequent nosebleeds

Diagnosis of High Blood Pressure

When you visit our doctors they routinely measure your blood pressure with a sphygmomanometer.

Regular monitoring your blood pressure, especially if you have above "normal" range or a family history, is recommended for hypertension.

Home or self tests will also help educate you on how it may change through the day.

Treatment Choices for High Blood Pressure

There are several treatment pathways to either reduce or manage high blood pressure. Our doctors are able to advise you on what they recommend suits you best.

Self-care

  • Physical exercise - Aerobic activity for 20–30 minutes, 5 days a week improves cardiovascular health. If injured, pursuing an activity that avoids the injured muscle group or joint can help maintain physical function while recovering.
  • Stress management - Pursuing an enjoyable activity or verbalising frustration to reduce stress and improve mental health.
  • Quitting smoking - Quitting smoking tobacco.
  • Home blood pressure monitors - Regular monitoring of blood pressure can help diagnose high blood pressure.
  • Low sodium diet - A diet that restricts salt (sodium chloride) and other forms of sodium to no more than 1,500 to 2,400 mg per day.

Medications

  • ACE inhibitor - Relaxes blood vessels, lowers blood pressure and prevents diabetes-related kidney damage.
  • Diuretic - Increases urine production to get rid of excess salt and water.
  • Beta blocker - Slows heart rate and decreases blood pressure. When taken in eye-drop form, it reduces eye pressure.
  • Anti-hypertensive drug - Lowers blood pressure.
  • Calcium channel blocker - Relaxes blood vessels.
  • Vasodilator - Widens blood vessels.