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10 Nov 2006

Blood pressure
Hi Doc., on the radio this week they were talking about blood pressure. The doc was saying that it used to be more important to have a good "bottom" reading, but now it is believed that the top reading could be the dangerous one if it was high. How "high" does it have to become before it is dangerous? My reading is 150/70. Is the 150 not to high and how can that be dropped? I am taking half a Prexum every morning.
Thank you. Maddy
Answer 448 views

01 Jan 0001

Hallo Maddy
A systolic blood pressure that is persistently higher than 140 mm Hg is usually considered elevated, especially when associated with an elevated diastolic pressure (over 90). Isolated systolic hypertension, however, is defined as a systolic pressure that is above 140 mm Hg with a diastolic pressure that still is below 90. This disorder primarily affects older people and is characterized by an increased (wide) pulse pressure. The pulse pressure is defined as the difference between the systolic and diastolic blood pressures. An elevation of the systolic pressure without an elevation of the diastolic pressure, as occurs in isolated systolic hypertension, therefore, increases the pulse pressure. Stiffening of the arteries contributes to this widening of the pulse pressure.

Once considered to be harmless, an elevation of the pulse pressure is now thought to lead to health problems. In other words, a high pulse pressure is considered an important precursor or indicator of potential end-organ damage. Thus, isolated systolic hypertension is associated with a 2 to 4 times increased future risk of an enlarged heart, a heart attack (myocardial infarction), a stroke (brain damage), and death from heart disease or a stroke. Clinical studies in patients with isolated systolic hypertension have indicated that a reduction in systolic blood pressure by at least 20 mm to a level below 160 mm Hg reduces these increased risks.

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