Blood pressure is a measurement of the force required to move blood through the vessels. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and readings provide two numbers as the result – the systolic pressure, which is the pressure of the blood against the vessel walls while your heart is beating, and the diastolic pressure, which is the pressure of the blood while your heart rests between beats. Generally, a pressure above 120/80 mm Hg is considered to be high. High blood pressure is also called hypertension.
High blood pressure can be caused by many factors including smoking, being overweight or obese, leading a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet or too much sodium in the diet, excess alcohol consumption and underlying diseases including kidney disease and diabetes. High blood pressure is also more common with older age and among those with a family history of the disease. Stress and sleep apnea can also play contributing roles.
High blood pressure typically causes no symptoms until a more serious event like a heart attack or stroke occurs. Having routine blood pressure checks is the best way to identify high blood pressure in its earliest stages so treatment can be provided to avoid serious medical issues. Without appropriate treatment, hypertension can result in heart and vessel damage, kidney and other organ damage, dementia, heart attack and stroke. It also increases the risk of developing atherosclerosis or “hardening” of the arteries, a serious condition that develops when sticky plaques build up along artery walls, causing them to become narrow and inhibiting the normal flow of blood.
Sometimes, mild high blood pressure can be treated with lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, losing weight, reducing sodium intake and being more physically active. But when these steps are not enough, medication may be needed to help maintain a normal pressure. Regular monitoring is also essential.
We accept many major insurance providers. Although we are out of network with Aetna and Oxford, we welcome the opportunity to take care of you with your out of network benefits. Please call our office to discuss details further. Dr. Insel does not accept any exchange or marketplace plans.
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