If you have the heart disease known as hypertension, or high blood pressure, your heart is pumping too hard and creating additional pressure in your blood vessels. At Bassett Healthcare Network, our primary care practitioners and heart care specialists have the expertise to treat your high blood pressure and help you improve your heart health.
We use two numbers to measure your blood pressure:
- Systolic blood pressure, the top number in your blood pressure formula, tells your practitioner how hard your heart is pushing blood into your body. For normal blood pressure, this number should be lower than 120
- Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure when your heart is relaxing. This number should be lower than 80 for good blood pressure
Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure
Although one in three Americans has hypertension, high blood pressure can often be avoided with healthy lifestyle choices, such as a healthy diet, stress management, drinking in moderation, and not smoking.
The most common type of hypertension is primary hypertension, which has no identifiable cause. Secondary hypertension can be traced to other conditions, such as thyroid disease, kidney disorders, and side effects of certain medications. When we treat those conditions, hypertension often reverses itself.
While the direct cause of primary hypertension is unknown, the following risk factors exist:
- Age over 60 years
- Family history of high blood pressure
- African American ethnicity
- Lifestyle factors, such as an unhealthy diet, smoking, sedentary habits, and drinking too much alcohol
- Gender (men are more likely to develop hypertension in middle age and women usually develop it later in life)
High Blood Pressure Symptoms
High blood pressure is often referred to as a “silent” heart condition because high blood pressure symptoms are rare. If you don’t have your blood pressure checked regularly, hypertension can progress for years without presenting symptoms, and interfere with your heart health. To keep your blood pressure from getting too high, the American Heart Association recommends blood pressure screenings every two years, starting at age 20. You can get your blood pressure checked at any of our Bassett Healthcare Network hospitals and clinic locations.
How to Lower Blood Pressure
In addition to recommending healthier lifestyle choices, our experienced practitioners treat hypertension using several medications, including:
- ACE inhibitors that repress the enzyme ACE, which causes blood vessels to constrict
- ARBs, receptor blockers that block a hormone, which can narrow blood vessels
- Alpha blockers that relax muscles, thereby helping small vessels remain open
- Beta blockers that block epinephrine (adrenaline) and allow the heart to beat more slowly
- Calcium channel blockers, which prevent calcium from entering the cells of the heart and blood vessels
- Diuretics, which increase the amount of salt and water that leaves the body through urine
- Vasodilators, which widen blood vessels
Learn How to Reduce Your Blood Pressure
If your blood pressure test reveals a higher-than-normal reading, talk to your primary care practitioner about which treatment option would be best for you. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our heart care specialists by calling 1-800-BASSETT.
Bassett Healthcare Network treats high blood pressure in Central New York, including Delhi, Oneonta, Herkimer, Cooperstown, Cobleskill, and Little Falls.