Hypertension, or high blood pressure, means that there is higher than normal pressure inside the arteries either during systole (when the heart contracts and pumps blood through the body), or during diastole (when the heart relaxes and fills with blood.) If the pressure is high during the pumping phase (systole), then the first number recorded with a blood pressure reading (the systolic pressure) will be high. If the pressure is high during the relaxation phase (diastole), then the second number recorded (the diastolic pressure) will be high.
Owan noted that a number of factors can influence a person's blood pressure, including age and weight. The time of day also influences blood pressure, as blood pressures fluctuate during waking hours, and are lower during sleep. It is usually higher during and immediately after exercise, and lower at periods of rest. Also, feelings such as fear, anger, or happiness can affect the blood pressure. Other illnesses, including kidney disease or heart disease, affect blood pressure, as can certain medications a patient may be taking.
For those concerned about blood pressure, an initial consultation with a physician at the Hypertension Clinic may be a useful diagnostic tool, said Owan. For more information and to make an appointment, call 801-585-
7676. It was a call Dinsdale is still glad she made.
"They've spent their lives studying the heart and heart failure. They've done fellowships and years of years of training," she said of the staff at the Hypertension Clinic and their approach to hypertension. "They can explain it. "Learn more about blood pressure by taking University of Utah Health Care's blood pressure quiz:
Check out other Ask an Expert articles from University of Utah Health Care.
Melinda Rogers is a communications specialist at the University of Utah Health Sciences Office of Public Affairs.
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