Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure, or a blood pressure measuring higher than 140/90. Let’s check in with Dr. Patel to hear more about what blood pressure is and how it works.
Blood pressure refers to the force that your heart creates in order to push blood to all the organs of your body. Along the way, your blood travels through arteries and arterioles to the capillaries that nourish your tissues. Veins then bring the blood back to the heart so that it can be sent to the lungs to pick up fresh oxygen. Your heart can increase your blood pressure by beating more forcefully or more frequently.
Many systems in your body work to regulate your blood pressure. For instance, the part of your brain that controls your circulatory system receives signals from the nerves in your arteries about your blood pressure. If that pressure is too high or too low, your brain tells the arterioles to expand or contract in order to adjust your blood pressure. There are also chemicals made in various parts of your body, including your adrenal glands, that reach the heart through your bloodstream. These chemicals affect how fast and how hard your heart contracts.
Your kidneys also work to regulate your blood pressure by releasing a hormone that can raise your blood pressure. Your kidneys can detect decreases or increases in blood pressure and blood volume. They then respond by releasing chemicals that have an effect on other parts of the body.
Each of these systems plays an important role in the regulation of your blood pressure. Abnormalities, or problems, with any of these systems can result in a blood pressure that’s too low or too high. Of course, the most common problem is hypertension, or high blood pressure.