High blood pressure in 5 questions

Sneaky, insidious, fatal… If arterial hypertension sets in without warning, it nevertheless represents the most important risk factor associated with cerebral vascular accidents. Little autopsy of this silent killer.

1. What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure in 5 questions

High blood pressure is defined as too much pressure in our arteries, causing our heart to work harder to pump blood through our body.

Too much tension can not only damage our heart and double the risk of cardiovascular disease but also weaken our kidneys and our brain by bursting blood vessels and causing a stroke.

2. What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?

Do we feel that our good physical condition and our normal pulse are guarantees of healthy blood pressure? Fake! High blood pressure usually does not cause any symptoms to alert us. It settles as gradually as sneakily.

“The luckiest will suffer from headaches in the morning,” says Dr. Christiane Laberge. They will then talk to their family doctor, who will do the blood pressure test and get an abnormal reading.” 

To detect high blood pressure upstream, it is important to measure our pressure at least once a year.

3. What factors increase the level of risk for hypertension?

“Hypertension is sometimes the result of a metabolic disease, a kidney disorder, a tumor, or taking certain medications,” explains Dr. Laberge. But in the vast majority of cases, it is impossible to single out a single cause.”

Several lifestyle factors generally increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. Excessive salt consumption, physical inactivity, excess weight, smoking, anxiety, and high cholesterol levels work against us.

Some predispositions, however, are beyond our control, such as our family history or even our age – about half of people over the age of 65 have hypertension. “If women benefit from a protective effect due to their hormones, this effect fades at menopause, specifies Dr. Laberge. It is for this reason that, in women, high blood pressure usually appears at menopause. 

4. What is the correct method to measure our blood pressure?

At home or at the pharmacy, it is important to follow the directions for use to obtain a valid result: “We don’t measure our pressure when we are upset, terrified or after three coffees, insists Dr. Laberge! We breathe deeply, we take the pressure a first time, we breathe a few times, then we take a second measurement. The latter will be the good one.”

If it is recommended to have our blood pressure checked at least once a year by a health professional, we can take a new measurement each time we are in the pharmacy, especially if our numbers are a little higher on average.

“If you are in good health, the pressure measured at home must be less than 135/85 mm Hg, specifies Dr. Laberge. However, some people have to take into account different parameters depending on their state of health. If one has diabetes, for example, any reading above 130/80 is considered high. If you have kidney failure, the measurement to trust is 120/80.”

5. What is the treatment for people with high blood pressure?

There are several families of drugs to treat hypertension: “Our doctor will have to proceed by trial and error, explains Dr. Laberge. The strategy is to make a vinaigrette made up of several ingredients. Instead of betting on the maximum dose of a single type of drug, we try to mix a little oil, a little mustard, and a little pepper, in order not to have too many negative side effects.

Barring exceptions, the treatment generally lasts the rest of our lives: “Non-pharmacological means also have an important place in the treatment,” explains Dr. Laberge. Better stress management, a healthy weight, a reduced-salt diet, a reduction in caffeine if you’re fired like a flea every time you drink an espresso… Mindfulness-style meditation has also been proven to and breathing techniques can help us. To try!”

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