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Glossary of High Blood Pressure Terms


DASH Diet: The DASH diet, which stands for the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, calls for a certain number of servings daily from various food groups, including more daily servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods.

Diastolic Blood Pressure: the pressure of blood against the walls of the arteries when the heart relaxes between beats. It is the "bottom" number when referring to a specific blood pressure. For example, if your blood pressure is 120 over 80 or 120/80, the diastolic measurement is 80.

Diuretics: Diuretics act on the kidneys to remove excess salt and fluid from the blood. This increases the flow of urine and the need to urinate, which reduces the amount of water in the body. This can help lower blood pressure and can be used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure.

Echocardiogram: a test that uses a device to bounce sound waves off the heart to create an image of the heart. The ultrasound image details the blood flow in the heart's chambers and evaluates heart chamber size and how the heart valves are functioning.

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG): a diagnostic test that measures the electrical activity, rate, and rhythm of the heartbeat via electrodes attached to the arms, legs, and chest

Essential Hypertension: high blood pressure that does not have an apparent cause, but is associated with such conditions such as obesity, smoking, and/or diet. The vast majority (95%) of people with high blood pressure have essential hypertension -- also known as primary hypertension.

Exercise Stress Test: a test in which electrocardiogram readings are taken while the patient exercises (on a treadmill or stationary bicycle) to increase heart rate to a predetermined point. It's used to diagnose heart disease or abnormal heart rhythms.

Erythropoietin: a hormone that stimulates production of red blood cells and can be used to treat anemia caused by chronic diseases.

Heart Attack: damage to the heart muscle caused by lack of blood flow to the heart muscle resulting in heart muscle death.

Hypertension: high blood pressure

Hypertensive Emergency: a severe elevation in blood pressure that can lead to organ damage, including encephalopathy (brain damage), heart attack, heart failure, hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding into the brain), eclampsia (a condition in which pregnant women have water retention, high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and seizures), kidney damage, and arterial bleeding.

Hypertensive Retinopathy: damage to the blood vessels in the retina (the area at the back of the eye) caused by high blood pressure.

Hypertensive Urgency: a form of hypertensive crisis, a spectrum of situations that includes high blood pressure and progressive or impending organ damage caused by high blood pressure.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: a condition in which the heart muscle becomes enlarged and thickened and may lead to dangerous heart rhythms.

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