It’s useful to know what all the words and phrases mean when you’re talking with your healthcare provider about blood pressure and other important medical information. Here’s a list of terms that can help you understand your condition.
Arteries: blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body tissues.
ARBs (angiotensin-receptor blockers): a type of high blood pressure medicine that blocks the action of a natural substance in the body called angiotensin II that increases blood pressure. BENICAR/BENICAR HCT belong to the class of drugs called ARBs.
Blood pressure: the pressure of the blood on blood vessel walls. Blood pressure is a result of many factors. For example, the force of the heart muscle as it contracts, how much fluid is in the blood, and blood vessel resistance.
Blood pressure cuff: an instrument for measuring blood pressure, particularly in the arteries.
Coronary artery disease (CAD): blockage of one or more arteries that supply blood to the heart, usually caused by atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Symptoms and signs of an acute blockage may include chest pain or heart attack.
Cholesterol: a fatty steroid that serves as a building block for many essential substances within the body, including bile acids and hormones. Elevated cholesterol levels increase the risk for heart and blood vessel disease, and should be treated with diet, weight loss, exercise, and medicines.
Diagnosis: the medical term that describes the nature of a disease.
Diastolic: refers to the time when the heart is in a period of relaxation between beats. In a blood pressure reading, the diastolic pressure is typically the second number recorded, and appears below the systolic blood pressure number. For example, in a blood pressure of 120/80, the “80” is the diastolic pressure.
Hypercholesterolemia: high cholesterol levels in the blood.
Hypertension: high blood pressure, generally defined as repeated measurements of systolic pressure of 140 or more; and/or diastolic pressure of 90 or more.
Kidney disease: illness affecting the kidneys, the organs that make urine.
Medicine (also known as medication): a drug that is used to treat a medical condition.
Sodium: a component of salt. Too much salt in the diet tends to increase blood pressure.
Systolic: refers to the time at which the heart is contracting during its beating rhythm. In a blood pressure reading, the systolic pressure is typically the first number recorded, and appears above the diastolic blood pressure number. For example, in a blood pressure of 120/80, the “120” is the systolic pressure.
Vein: a blood vessel that carries blood that is low in oxygen back from body tissues toward the heart.
White coat hypertension: a condition where people are so nervous about having a medical appointment that they temporarily have higher blood pressure whenever they see a doctor.