What is Systolic Hypertension

Defining systolic hypertension

Hypertension has been used to gauge an individual’s risk for developing heart disease, kidney disease or having a stroke. Once a diagnosis of hypertension is made, it is important to treat and control the pressure before damage occurs to any organs. 

Blood pressure is defined by the amount of pressure exerted by the blood as it travels through the arteries. Systolic pressure is the one exerted during a heartbeat and the diastolic is the one that is measured between heartbeats. The pressure varies throughout the day depending on a person’s activities; if it stays elevated over a period of time, the condition is referred to as hypertension. Systolic hypertension is a condition where the diastolic remains normal while the systolic is elevated.

How it is diagnosed

It has no symptoms and can only be diagnosed at a doctor’s office. The pressure is measured by attaching an inflatable arm cuff and pressure gauge to a patients arm. The measurement is written with systolic value over the diastolic value. Normal blood pressure is written as 120/80 mmHg. If a reading of the systolic pressure of more than 140 mmHg is registered over an extended period, then the diagnosis is made. The diastolic one does not need to be elevated for a diagnosis to be made.

The effect on the body

Elevated pressure is dangerous, as it causes the heart to work harder to move blood around the body. This puts a strain on the heart. If the heart is unable to deliver the blood to the organs, congestive heart failure can develop. Hypertension also causes:

  • Weakened artery walls to break, and if this occurs in the brain, the result is a stroke.

  • In the kidneys, the high blood pressure eventually thickens the blood vessels, effectively narrowing the arteries, which ends up transporting less fluid to be filtered. This can eventually lead to kidney failure.

  • Arteries will also harden which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. 

Causes of systolic hypertension

It can develop as a result of the narrowing of arteries caused by aging or deposits on artery walls. It can also be caused by the heart’s actions. If the heart starts beating faster or harder due to constant stress, hormonal problems or other medical conditions blood pressure can increase. In most cases, the precise cause is not known. However, by developing a healthy life style it can be prevented. Eating healthy foods, reducing salt and sodium in foods, maintaining a healthy weight and being active are ways to prevent it from developing.

Systolic hypertension can be treated by preventing the blood pressure from being elevated and controlling it. Taking medications can help lower the pressure. Diuretics reduce blood volume effectively lowering blood pressure, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptors, and channel blockers all work on the walls of the blood vessels by either causing them to dilate or to relax effectively reducing the pressure in the arteries. Other medications control the nervous impulses to the blood vessels.


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