High blood pressure is a common condition which affects 1 in 5 Australians during their lifetime. If left untreated, the risk of serious health problems increases such as stroke, heart failure and kidney failure.

Blood pressure is written down with one number on top of the other e.g. 120/80 mm Hg. The top number is your systolic blood pressure (i.e. the amount of pressure in your arteries when your heart muscle contracts)   The bottom number is your diastolic blood pressure (i.e. your blood pressure when your heart muscle is between beats).  Hypertension occurs when the pressure in arteries is higher than normally needed to get blood to flow through the tissues of the body. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels are both important. Generally hypertension is silent but some patients are aware of feeling generally unwell and may have headaches. If your BP is not checked regularly hypertension may be missed until complications like stroke or heart attack occur.

Blood pressure and your heart | Heart Foundation

Endocarditis, myocarditis and pericarditis

Endocarditis is a rare bacterial infection of the heart valve lining that is life threatening. This infection causes growths (vegetations) on the valve, which destroy and break down the tissue of the valves, which can lead to sepsis and fatality. People with already diseased valves or replacement valves are much more susceptible to endocarditis. Endocarditis can be diagnosed with an echocardiogram.

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. This usually results in a reduction of the heart’s ability to pump blood to the body, which may be presented as chest pain and shortness of breath. Myocarditis most commonly occurs as a result of infection with a virus, but can also be caused by a general inflammatory condition or use of illicit drugs. Myocarditis can be diagnosed with an echocardiogram or chest x-ray.

Pericarditis is inflammation of the sac structure around the heart. The heart is surrounded by a small amount of pericardial fluid that allows the heart to do its job. Excessive fluid can build up in the sac causing a pericardial effusion. Too much fluid can compress on the heart chambers which can be fatal. Pericarditis is usually a result of a viral infection. Pericarditis can be diagnosed with an ECG or echocardiogram.