Questions of the Month and Alphabet Soup
Answers to Your Health Questions
Ask the Doctor with Dr. Leslie Spry, MD, FACP
Q: What is the cause of hypertension?
A: Unfortunately there is no single cause of hypertension. I recommend that you review our web site for specific questions regarding hypertension and chronic kidney disease. There are many causes of hypertension (high blood pressure). The most common cause is that you inherit it from your mother or your father. I recommend daily exercise, weight control and a low salt diet to prevent complications of high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, you may need medication to control it and prevent complications.
Send your questions to Dr. Spry! Email KEEPhealthy@kidney.org
Alphabet Soup: Breaking Down Frequently Used Medical and Health Terms
HTN/ HBP: Hypertension or high blood pressure occurs when blood vessels become narrow or stiff. This forces your heart to pump harder in order to push blood throughout your body. When the force of your blood against your artery walls becomes too high, it can cause damage and this is considered to be high blood pressure. A single high blood pressure reading may not mean that you have high blood pressure, but it is important to follow up with a clinician to determine what is going on. High blood pressure readings on two or more visits to the doctor may be indicative of a high blood pressure diagnosis.
For most adults, high blood pressure consists of a systolic (upper number) pressure of 140 or higher, and a diastolic (lower number) pressure of 90 or higher. People who have systolic blood pressure of 120-139 or diastolic blood pressure of 80-89, are said to have “Pre-hypertension”. Those who fall in the category of having pre-hypertension should talk to their doctors about lifestyle changes that can help them prevent high blood pressure. For people who have diabetes or chronic kidney disease, target blood pressure is 130/80 or less.
Systolic: The systolic pressure refers to the top number in your blood pressure reading. This number references the pressure when your heart beats. In the blood pressure reading of 120/80, which is read as “120 over 80”, the number “120” is the systolic reading.
Diastolic: Diastolic pressure refers to the bottom number in your blood pressure reading. This number is a measurement of the pressure when your heart rests in between beats. In the blood pressure reading of 120/80, the number “80” is the diastolic reading.