63-year-old man with an 8th grade education: Hypertension.
You have been diagnosed with hypertension. In order to understand hypertension/high blood pressure you need to understand what the term blood pressure means. Blood pressure is the measurement of force against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood through your body. Blood pressure is described as two numbers. One or both of these numbers can be too high. The top number is called the systolic blood pressure, which is the force of blood in the arteries as the heart beats, and the bottom number is called the diastolic blood pressure which is the force of blood in the arteries as the heart relaxes between beats. Every time our heartbeats blood is rushing through our arteries so the higher your blood pressure is the harder your heart has to work to push blood through. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body in many ways. Our body likes to be at a neutral state at all times it likes to be stable what we in the medical field like to call Homeostasis. When blood pressure increases, signals are sent to the brain from the arteries. Signals are sent to the heart from the brain and heart rate slows down, if the blood pressure is low, the brainstem sends information to the heart to speed up and to the arteries to constrict, thus increasing blood pressure throughout the body thus helping blood pressure to return to normal. We call this negative feedback. However you cannot depend on negative feedback to maintain homeostasis. The body is always changing and therefore the body can’t stay at the same set point because the body is trying to constantly adapt to what’s going on in and outside of the body. Chronic or long-term high blood pressure cannot only cause damage to your heart and vessels (congestive heart failure or heart attack) but to your kidneys (kidney failure), brain (stroke and or aneurysm), eyes (blurred vision or blindness).