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ABBR: BP The tension exerted on the walls of arteries by: the strength of the contraction of the heart; the resistance of arterioles and capillaries; the elasticity of blood vessels; the blood volume; and blood viscosity.
Normal blood pressure is defined as a systolic BP between 100 and 120 mm Hg and a diastolic BP below 80 mm Hg (in adults over age 18). Prehypertension is present when measured blood pressures are between 120 and 140 mm Hg systolic or between 80 and 90 mm Hg diastolic. When either the systolic pressure exceeds 140 mm Hg or the diastolic exceeds 90 mm Hg, and these values are confirmed on two additional visits, stage I hypertension (high blood pressure) is present.
BLOOD PRESSURE Relationship of blood pressure to changes in cuff pressure and the first and fifth Korotkoff sounds (BP 120/80)
Low blood pressure is sometimes present in healthy individuals, but it indicates shock in patients with fever, active bleeding, allergic reactions, active heart disease, spinal cord injuries, or trauma. Blood pressure should be checked routinely whenever a patient sees a health care provider because controlling abnormally high blood pressure effectively prevents damage to the heart and circulatory system as well as the kidneys, retina, brain, and other organs.
Elevated blood pressures should first be addressed by giving advice to patients about lifestyle modifications, such as limiting the intake of alcohol, following a diet approved by the American Heart Association, and increasing the level of physical exercise. Weight loss in obese patients is also advisable. Medications are added to lifestyle instructions most of the time. Antihypertensive medications are used according to evidence-based guidelines and the side effects these drugs may cause in particular patients. Diuretics, for example, are esp. helpful in blacks and older patients (but may be inadvisable in patients with gout); beta blockers are the drugs of choice in patients with a history of myocardial infarction (but would be contraindicated in patients with advanced heart block); alpha blockers are well suited for men with prostatic hypertrophy; and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors prevent kidney disease in patients with diabetes mellitus. Other antihypertensive drug classes include the angiotensin II receptor antagonists, centrally active alpha antagonists, and calcium channel blockers. Low blood pressure is not treated in healthy patients; in patients with acute illnesses, it is often corrected with hydration or pressor agents.