High Blood Pressure: a Stealthy Killer



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Did you know that persistent high blood pressure could eventually lead to heart failure? At what point is blood pressure classified as too high? What are the risks? And more importantly, how can you prevent high blood pressure? Kevin asks these questions to Cardiologist Dr. Catherine De Maeyer.

 


03-12-2014 -  by Kevin Van der Straeten

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Transcript

Did you know that persistent high blood pressure could eventually lead to heart failure? At what point is blood pressure classified as too high? What are the risks? And more importantly, how can you prevent high blood pressure? I'll ask these questions to Cardiologist Dr. Catherine De Maeyer.

 

Hi Catherine. Welcome to our studio.

 

Hi. Thanks.

 

High blood pressure. What is that actually?

 

Well, the blood pressure is the pressure in the blood vessels, in the arteries. And it's, you have two parts in the blood pressure. You have the systolic part, or the first number. And then you have the diastolic blood pressure, it's the second number. For example, you have 130 to 80 millimeters of mercury, for example. Now, when the pressure in the blood vessels is too high, it's elevated. We call that arterial hypertension or high blood pressure.

 

What is too high then? What are the limits?

 

Well, the limits,140 to 90 millimeters of mercury, for the global population. In people with diabetes, diabetes mellitus, the accepted maximum level level is 140 to 85 millimeters of mercury. So we're a bit more concerned about blood pressure in people with diabetes mellitus.

 

And what are the risks from high blood pressure?

 

Well, the acute risk is often quite low. Blood pressure has to be very high, very elevated, to fear an acute complication. But the risks are more a chronic type of problem, Like for example, kidney disease. For example, cardiac disease. Brain problems like brain attacks, ischemic strokes or probably...

 

So it's a silent killer.

 

Yeah, it's a silent killer.

 

And what can we do about it, when diagnosed with high blood pressure?

 

Well, there are two parts in the treatment and they are both very important. So first of all, you have the lifestyle adjustments, which means that you have a low salt intake; sodium intake. Then that you have good weight control. So you have to really be... take care of your weight. So no overweight. You have to avoid caffeine. So you can drink Coke or coffee, but not liters per day. And then regular exercise is very important.

 

How important is that?

 

It's very important. It's really, it's a keystone of the preventive, but also curative treatment, because we know that regular exercise lowers the blood pressure, both in the acute phase but also on the long term. So exercise is very important.

 

And what about medication? Can the medication be replaced by, for example, exercising and lifestyle changes?

 

Sometimes it can, if you have a really, if you have a slightly elevated blood pressure without other cardiovascular risk factors like high cholesterol, like diabetes mellitus. The lifestyle changes can be enough. But often, the pressure is higher, there are a lot more risk factors and then you need a medication. And sometimes it's one medication, sometimes you need a combination or cocktail of pills.

 

Okay, but it's still better to prevent than to cure?

 

Absolutely.

 

Okay. Thank you for coming over.

 

Bye.

 

And you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next time. ♪ [music] ♪

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