Hypertension - High Blood Pressure

Strictly high blood pressure or hypertension is not a complication and you won't normally even know if you have it without a blood pressure check.

High blood pressure does however increases the risk of developing diabetic complications such as Eye Damage (Retinopathy), Coronary Heart Disease & Kidney Damage.

Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure varies as the heart beats. The two measurements made are the minimum pressure between heart beats and the maximum pressure when the heart beats.

Systolic Blood Pressure is the higher of the two readings and Diastolic Blood Pressure the lower reading. These are often referred to in the form - 120/80 or 120 over 80.

Blood Pressure checks are normally taken when you are relaxed. Because there is a natural variance in blood pressure multiple readings may be taken over a period of time, perhaps weeks (or longer) apart. Individual high readings are not a problem but prolonged high blood pressure is.

Targets for Blood Pressure

The general population are recommended to keep systolic blood pressure levels below 140 mmHg and diastolic levels below 85 mmHg.

Diabetetics however are recommended to keep to lower levels. That is: Systolic blood pressure below 130 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure below 80 mmHg.

Note that these are general figures and other factors may mean you are given different targets.

Ways to Reduce Blood Pressure

White Coat Syndrome

Nervousness and stress can increase blood pressure. When this occurs in the surgery or hospital prior to taking a reading it is know as 'white coat syndrome' and may be a factor in increasing your blood pressure.

Home Monitoring

Many types of blood pressure meters are available for home use. These can monitor blood pressure on a finger, on the wrist or the upper arm. The upper arm meters are preferred by the medical profession originally due to inaccuracy in the other types although the modern wrist types are more accurate now.

Potassium & Hypertension

Potassium intake may be another factor in hypertension.

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