The heart is a beating muscle that pumps blood to the body through a network of arteries. The force of the blood is constantly putting pressure on the inside walls of blood vessels. This is known as “blood pressure”. Blood pressure is measured to evaluate the force and amount of blood being pumped from the heart, as well as the flexibility and condition of the vessels. Many different factors can affect blood pressure including: - the levels of hormones in the body - water and salt content - and the condition of the heart, kidneys, nervous system, and blood vessels. Blood pressure is closely regulated by chemicals in the body that change the diameter of the blood vessels depending on the needs of the body: widening to let more blood flow or narrowing to allow less blood to flow. For example, a chemical called angiotensin I can bind to another substance in the body called an Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme, or ACE. Once bound, a new chemical called angiotensin II is created. Angiotensin II binds to receptors on the surface of vascular smooth muscle causing these blood vessels to narrow, thereby increasing blood pressure. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a condition where blood pressure remains abnormally high. If left untreated, hypertension can seriously damage the heart and blood vessels by adding to their workload. This can result in congestive heart failure, stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, aneurysms, or even death. Many factors can cause blood pressure to remain elevated, specifically conditions that cause narrowing of blood vessels. To treat hypertension, a class of medications called ACE inhibitors may be prescribed. ACE inhibitors regulate blood pressure by inhibiting, or blocking the action of ACE. This prevents the chemical conversion of angiotensin I to angiotensin II, thereby reducing blood vessel narrowing. Overall, this can cause the blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure and making it easier for the heart to pump blood effectively. There are several different brands of ACE inhibitor medications. As with all medications, adverse effects may develop while taking this medication. Always consult a doctor before starting treatment or making any changes to your current therapy.
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