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  Health-Related Articles on High Blood Pressure

December 20, 2013 
Written by: Victor E. Battles, M.D. 

Health-related articles on high blood pressure are particularly relevant with respect to increasing health literacy and promoting patient engagement because of the large and increasing portion of the population with hypertension (the medical terminology for high blood pressure), and the unacceptably high number of individuals with hypertension whose pressures are not controlled. The first step in educating the public about high blood pressure, is defining what is normal pressure and clarifying the different terminologies used in reference to hypertension based on the degree of elevation and whether or not the upper, lower, or both numbers are elevated.
Hypertension in general is defined as a blood pressure elevation of 140/90 or greater. The top number of a blood pressure reading is called the systolic blood pressure and the lower number is referred to as the diastolic pressure. If just the top number is elevated health-care professionals use the term systolic hypertension. On the other hand, if just the bottom number is elevated a patient is said to have diastolic hypertension. Normal blood pressure readings are those in which systolic pressure is less than 120 mmHg and the diastolic pressure is less than 80 mmHg. A systolic blood pressure range between 120 and 139 or a diastolic blood pressure range between 80 and 89 mmHg is categorized as pre-hypertension. A systolic blood pressure range from 140 to 159 or a diastolic range between 90 and 99 is classified as stage 1 hypertension. A systolic pressure of 160 or greater or I diastolic pressure of 100 or greater is labeled a stage 2 hypertension.
The above numbers which define what is normal and what is abnormal with respect to blood pressure readings, is not gender specific. Therefore, there is not a set of normal readings for men and a different set of normal readings for women, although many studies have shown that men, in general, have higher blood pressure readings than women.
Because blood pressure rises with age, hypertension is becoming more prevalent as our population ages. This fact, along with a worsening physician shortage, and the relationship between hypertension, cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease warrants improved health literacy and patient engagement in the treatment of hypertension. The intended end results are prolonged life, improved quality of life and reduced health-care costs.
Other topics relevant to increasing health literacy and promoting patient engagement with respect to hypertension warrant separate health-related articles devoted to those topics. Some of those topics include controlling blood pressure, foods that help lower blood pressure, blood pressure monitoring and the new guidelines for treating hypertension.

Victor E. Battles, M.D. is a board-certified internist with 30 + years of patient contact. Dr. Battles has been a principal investigator in several clinical research trials, and is the founder of Proactive Health Outlet.   

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