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Carolina Medical Center

Internists located in Walterboro, SC

Nearly half the women and men in the United States suffer from hypertension, or high blood pressure, and don’t even know it. At Carolina Medical Center in Walterboro, South Carolina, health care professionals diagnose and treat this condition effectively. To learn more about hypertension and how to reduce your risk, call or schedule an appointment online today.

Hypertension Q & A

What is hypertension?

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is when the force of your blood pressing against the walls of your blood vessels is too high. This condition can lead to devastating consequences, such as:

  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack
  • Vision loss
  • Kidney disease and failure
  • Sexual dysfunction

Blood pressure readings have two numbers that represent your systolic and diastolic pressures. "Systolic" measures the pressure in your arteries as your heart pumps or contracts. "Diastolic" measures the pressure in between heart contractions, or when your heart rests.

A reading greater than 130/80 (systolic/diastolic) is considered high.

Who develops hypertension?

Typically, hypertension has no identifiable cause. This condition develops in adults gradually as they age. However, several factors can increase your risk of developing hypertension:

  • Age
  • Family history of hypertension
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Tobacco use
  • A heavy sodium diet
  • Potassium or Vitamin D deficiencies
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Stress
  • Underlying chronic conditions (e.g., diabetes, sleep apnea)

In some cases, other underlying conditions or certain medications can lead to hypertension.

How is hypertension diagnosed?

At your appointment, your provider first reviews your medical history and performs a thorough medical evaluation. Then, they take your blood pressure with a pressure cuff -- also called a sphygmomanometer -- to determine if the readings are in a healthy range.

First, they place the cuff around your upper arm. Next, they inflate it manually or electronically, depending on the device. Finally, your practitioner slowly deflates the cuff. Don’t be surprised if your provider performs more than one blood pressure reading from one or both of your arms.

To ensure an accurate hypertension diagnosis, your practitioner may ask you to take additional readings at home or in the doctor’s office. Multiple readings -- sometimes spaced minutes, hours, or days apart -- might be required because your blood pressure can vary depending on factors such as feeling nervous.

How is hypertension managed and treated?

Your specific hypertension treatment plan depends on the severity of your hypertension, age, overall health, and lifestyle. One of the first steps your provider is likely to recommend is making lifestyle changes that benefit your overall health. These changes can go a long way toward improving your condition and include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing alcohol consumption
  • Exercising regularly

You can also expect your provider to analyze your diet, and recommend changes to limit your sodium intake and increase Vitamin D and potassium.

Sometimes lifestyle changes aren't sufficient to treat hypertension, so your health practitioner at Carolina Medical Center might prescribe medication. Medications can be particularly effective when they complement improved diet and exercise habits.

To learn more about hypertension and how to treat this condition, call or schedule an appointment online today.