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Chronic high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a widespread disease: it is estimated that up to 10 million people in Germany are affected. High blood pressure comes on gradually and can lead to a stroke or heart attack in the long term if left untreated. It is therefore important to know the symptoms and have your blood pressure measured regularly. But how do you recognize high blood pressure? Is it true that only older and overweight people are affected? And how can you lower your blood pressure? We clarify the facts - and dispel common myths.
The heart transports oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to all parts of the body. Sometimes the blood travels a long way: that is why the heart has to pump properly, which also manifests itself as a pulse. The heart muscle contracts and creates pressure to squeeze blood out of the ventricle. This upper blood pressure value is called systole. It then relaxes again and the pressure decreases to allow blood to flow into the chamber. This lower blood pressure value is called diastole.
The blood pressure of a healthy person fluctuates throughout the day. In a relaxed state it drops, but it rises during exertion: this is quite normal. Only when the blood pressure in the arteries is constantly high do we speak of high blood pressure.
Medicine distinguishes between primary and secondary high blood pressure. Primary hypertension is present in about 90 percent of cases. Concrete causes are not known. However, we can assume that certain factors favour primary high blood pressure. For example, menopausal women are often affected.
Primary high blood pressure - risk factors:
Secondary hypertension occurs comparatively rarely - triggered by other diseases.
Secondary high blood pressure - causes:
A common misconception is that high blood pressure is a sign of aging or only occurs in people who are overweight. In addition, genetic predisposition, stress and an unhealthy lifestyle also play a role. The fact is that even younger and normal-weight people can have high blood pressure.
Many sufferers only become suspicious when serious symptoms occur. Why have an examination when you feel fit and healthy? A fallacy: Because high blood pressure can go unnoticed for a long time and that is why it is so dangerous. Cardiologists agree: If high blood pressure is detected early, it can be treated well. That is why everyone over 40 years of age should have their blood pressure measured at least once a year. From the age of 50, even every 6 months.
In addition, there are a number of symptoms that can indicate high blood pressure. These include:
A red head does not always indicate high blood pressure. Not all sufferers blush when excited. And this list is no substitute for going to the doctor. If in doubt, it is better to have another examination.
Doctors usually measure blood pressure briefly at rest. In certain cases, a 24-hour measurement may also be necessary. The unit of measurement for blood pressure is mmHg (millimetres of mercury). A reading of 120/80 ("120 to 80") therefore means that the systolic blood pressure is 120 mmHg and the diastolic is 80 mmHg.
The following values apply to blood pressure measurement:
Ideal: up to 120/to 80
High Normal: 130-139/85-89
Mild hypertension: 140-159/90-99
Moderate high blood pressure: 160-179/100-109
Severe high blood pressure: from 180/ab 110
The limit value from normal to elevated blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg.
Blood pressure measurement is one of the routine examinations performed by a family doctor. The nurse places a pressure cuff around your upper arm and pumps it up to about 200 mmHg. Then she slowly releases the air from the cuff and can hear flow sounds through the crook of your arm with the stethoscope. These mark the systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure, you must also measure your values yourself. Ask your doctor or health care professional to show you how to do this.
More tips for measuring blood pressure at home:
First and foremost: prevention is the best medicine. Exercise daily. Avoid sitting for long periods without interruption. The German Heart Foundation recommends getting up from your desk more often during a long office day and walking a few steps. It is even better if you do half an hour of sport several times a week - preferably cardio training.
Many people believe that blood pressure patients need to take extra care of themselves. This is also a myth: the best treatment successes are achieved if you combine the medication with enough exercise. This does not mean running a marathon or going to the gym every day. Lifting heavy weights is actually not a good idea because your blood pressure can rise too quickly. But a half-hour walk a day can be very effective.
Balanced and healthy instead of greasy and oversalted: even the right diet keeps blood pressure constant. Opt for a Mediterranean diet:
Enjoy the coffee in the morning and the glass of wine in the evening - as long as it remains in moderation. And avoid smoking if possible. Your heart will thank you for it.