High Blood Pressure

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High Blood Pressure or Hypertension:  Hypertension in its simplest terms is an elevated measured pressure in your arteries.  Hypertension is a very common health problem and affects millions of people across the United States.  Hypertension does not readily give physical signs and symptoms and is known as the “silent killer”.  There are two forms of Hypertension, Primary/Essential and Secondary Hypertension.  Secondary Hypertension is not as common as Essential Hypertension, but in various cases of secondary hypertension there is a correctable cause.  Secondary hypertension is high blood pressure caused by one of numerous specific conditions.  Your parents, dietary habits such as salt or sodium intake, weight gain, lack of physical exercise, excessive alcohol intake (no more than two mixed drinks, two 12 oz cans of beer, or two 6 oz of wine daily), and other various dietary habits play a vital role in hypertension.  It is important to eat a low salt diet, limit alcohol consumption, and participate in regular exercise.

High blood pressure is known silent killer because is slowly leads to significant health problems. The classic symptoms of high blood pressure are rarely ever present and the best way to detect hypertension is to have your blood pressure measure in your doctor’s office.  Hypertension is a leading cause for heart attacks and strokes.  It accelerates damage to the kidneys, blood vessels throughout the body leading to stroke, aneurysms in the abdomen, chest and brain, pain in your legs when walking, and heart attacks.  Strokes can be a very disabling complication of hypertension, and the best way to treat a stroke is to prevent it.  The mainstay of stroke prevention is control of blood pressure.  The second leading cause of kidney failure requiring dialysis in the United States is blood pressure damage to the kidneys. Physicians at the Kidney and Hypertension Institute of Utah are very serious about controlling your blood pressure to reduce the risk of a stroke, heart attack, or kidney failure.

Blood pressure control varies on the underlying conditions of the patient.  The guidelines for specific disorders are published by the National Institutes of Health and Joint National Commission.  These guidelines take into account definitions of blood pressure, goals of therapy, and risk factors patients have to determine what goal is right for you.  For patients with kidney disease, blood pressure should be controlled to at least less than 130/80 and maybe lower pending the type kidney disease they have.  The top number of a blood pressure reading is called the systolic reading and the bottom is the diastolic.  The normal blood pressure is 120/80.  Contrary to prior beliefs, the systolic blood pressure does the majority of damage to your blood vessels that can cause stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure.  It is very important to keep this number at goal to minimize the complications of the silent killer.

The treatment of Hypertension is targeted at looking for complications, dietary and lifestyle modification, treating an underlying cause, and prescription medication.  Generally, physicians start with dietary and lifestyle modifications in the form of low salt/sodium diet, weight loss, and exercise.  If lifestyle modifications are not successful or if you have significant complications of high blood pressure at diagnosis then your doctor will put you on lifestyle treatment and prescription medications.  There are very inexpensive and effective blood pressure medications that can bring your blood pressure to goal.  Our physicians strive to create a cost effective treatment plan that gives great control of blood pressure with minimal side effects.  Ask your doctor or pharmacist about all side effects and benefits of medications.

The physicians at Kidney and Hypertension Institute of Utah are experienced in treatment of all levels of hypertension.  This ranges from blood pressure that is controlled on single medications or blood pressure readings that need a very complex drug regiment to adequately treat blood pressure to goal.  Patient with kidney disease or diabetes should be treated to a blood pressure goal of at least less than 130/80.  Patients with hypertension without significant associated disease, goals are less than 140/90.  Remember that blood pressure control benefits you for years to come. 

If you have Chronic Kidney Disease or Diabetes your blood pressure should average less than 130/80.  For patient without CKD or Diabetes the goal of your blood pressure should be less than 140/90.  If your blood pressure is not at goal or think you have high blood pressure, please call your doctor or the doctors at the Kidney and Hypertension Institute of Utah for a complete evaluation.