There is no better way to say it – it’s all wired to our source of life. The Global Health Observatory (GHO) estimates that no less than 1.13 billion people worldwide are affected by raised blood pressure. The WHO has identified high blood pressure as the world’s most prevalent preventable disease and reports that more than 1 in 5 adults worldwide have raised blood pressure – a condition that causes around half of all deaths from stroke and heart disease in the WHO European Region.
Complications from hypertension account for 9.4 million deaths worldwide every year. There is no doubt: If our blood pressure is out of control, our lives are in danger.
Why? Well, blood pressure describes the force of blood that is flowing through the blood vessels. It is recorded as two values, the systolic blood pressure (the first number) and the diastolic blood pressure (the second number). Whereas the first value is generated when the heart contracts and blood is pumped into the blood vessels, the diastolic (second) value describes the pressure when the heart is relaxed and is filling with blood again. The values are displayed in mmHg (millimetres of mercury).
According to the WHO and other leading health organisations, the systolic and diastolic values of blood pressure are divided into five categories: normal (120/129 systolic and 80-84mmHg diastolic), normal threshold (130-135 systolic or 85-89 mmHg diastolic), Grade 1 hypertension (140-159/90-99mmHg or higher), Grade 2 hypertension (160-179/100-109mmHg) and Grade 3 hypertension (also called hypertensive crisis) with above 179/above 110 mmHg.
The reasons for high blood pressure are numerous: overweight, smoking, stress, organ damage and age-related stiffness of large arteries or plaque inside the arteries. A different type of hypertension is “secondary hypertension”. Organic problems, such as kidney diseases, that cause high blood pressure. By treating the underlying problem, blood pressure values may return to normal.
According to a recent study by Springer’s hypertension reports, the risk of permanent damage to the whole body doubles with every 20 mmHg systolic or 10 mmHg diastolic in case high blood pressure remains untreated. However, if regularly monitored and treated, the risk of severe physical damage can be drastically reduced.
The only way to find out if you suffer from high blood pressure is to have it regularly measured by yourself, your doctor or medical professional who can also help you understand the blood pressure values.