In recent years, medical researchers have become aware that high blood pressure (hypertension) exerts a sinister effect on a person’s health, and may lead to premature death. For example, an investigation of men who worked for the People’s Gas Company in Chicago showed that the higher the man’s initial blood pressure, the greater was his chance of having a heart attack, a stroke, or some other disease of the heart or arteries within twelve years. The effect of a stroke on a man’s entire life can be even more devastating. At a World Health Organisation Seminar in 1971, the medical experts concluded that there was no single measure which would make such a contribution to the quality of life in old age as the prevention of stroke.
To understand why this is so, you need to know something about your blood pressure.
Your heart is a pump which beats 70 times a minute, 4200 times an hour, 100,000 times a day, and 365, 000 times a year, forcing blood through all your arteries. The blood carries vitally needed oxygen to your tissues and removes waste products for discharge from your body through your lungs or your kidneys. To keep the blood flowing against the resistance of the elastic-like walls of the arteries the heart has to exert a pressure.