Galen in Ancient Greece first described a circulatory system in the human body. He explained this as a system of interconnected set of arteries filled with “pneuma”(life giving force). He believed that the heart was like a fountain, constantly giving the needed ‘pneuma” and blood to the system.
It was only in 1896 that Riva-Rocci developed the first mercury sphygmomanometer to measure blood pressure which was a big improvement on the invasive methods used before this time.
I like Galens description in that it is indeed our heart that beats with a life giving force to push blood into the intricate interconnected circulatory system which carries oxygenated blood and nutrients to the rest our bodies and on to our organs. There is also another force where the heart rests between beats and fills with blood from the rest of body only to repeat the cycle over again. These forces are represented as numbers one on top of the other, commonly known as Blood Pressure. The top number is called the Systolic pressure or the “pushing” pressure and the number below is the diastolic or “filling” pressure.
If the blood pressure is too high, this puts extra workload on the heart and blood vessels, making them work harder and less efficiently. This can lead to heart attacks, strokes and damage to our organs like our kidneys, eyes and heart. Hypertension is when blood pressure is too high and Hypotension when it is too low.
The reason that Hypertension is called “ The Silent Killer” is that we may not feel anything is wrong but damage is quietly happening that can threaten our health and cause a heart attack or stroke without warning. Hypertension usually develops over many years.
The best prevention is having regular blood pressure checks, knowing the numbers and working with our healthcare provider to get better control. This is done by a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. These include stopping smoking, frequent exercise, healthy eating and controlling our stress levels.
Stay safe and stay healthy