High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

What is High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)?

Cardiac ectopy, also known as an ectopic beat, refers to small changes that occur to a heartbeat that is otherwise normal. This results in a premature heartbeat often followed by a pause before the next heartbeat, which feels like a missed heartbeat. Fortunately, while disconcerting they are mostly harmless. Ectopic beats are the most common cause of patients experiencing heart palpitations. There are two types of early heartbeat. Premature atrial contraction (PAC) originate in the upper chambers of the heart while premature ventricular contraction (PVC) originate in the lower chambers. In most patients ectopic heart beats are usually a benign phenomena and are not associated with any significant cardiac disease. However, in every individual careful assessment is required.

What assessment do I need if I have hypertension or suspected hypertension?

You are considered to have hypertension if your blood pressure readings are consistently above the target of 140/85. The target blood pressure if you have diabetes is lower than this. Your Cardiologist will want to make a thorough assessment of your associated risk factors such as age, history of diabetes, smoking, your cholesterol and your family history. There are a number of personal factors that can lead to hypertension such as being overweight, high salt intake, infrequent exercise and how much alcohol you drink. You will also need some basic blood tests, an ECG and also, usually, an echocardiogram. NICE guidelines recommend the wearing of a 24-hour Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor help make the diagnosis. A blood pressure monitor is invaluable in assessing the effectiveness of treatment.

What assessment do I need if I have hypertension or suspected hypertension?

If your blood pressure is found to be high, it will need to be closely monitored until it is brought under control. In the first instance this will involve lifestyle changes such as losing weight, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, cutting back if you drink a lot of alcohol, stopping smoking and cutting down on salt and caffeine. In some cases, despite lifestyle changes, medication will be required to achieve your target blood pressure. Your cardiologist will be able to guide you as the the timing and type of medication to help control your blood pressure.