So, in summary:
• Remember that hypertension is a chronic
condition of increased blood pressure, and
it's often unnoticed by the patient. As I
said in the last lecture, it's the silent
killer. And chronic hypertension can damage
the heart, the arteries; lead to heart attacks
and strokes and kidney failure and so forth.
And there's lots of effective medicines for
• However, what's important is that the
opposite of hypertension can be equally life-threatening:
hypotension. It's quite common, and often,
it's something simple and straightforward.
For example, when somebody has a simple faint—you
know, they see blood or they see something
very upsetting—suddenly, the vagus nerve
dilates the blood vessels. The peripheral
resistance falls. The blood pressure falls,
and the patient may faint. Well, that's not
a serious illness, as long as the patient
doesn't fall and break a bone. And usually,
patients recover pretty quickly. However,
that's a more benign form of hypotension.
• Severe hypotension, such as shock, occurs
(as I have mentioned) through a number of
serious illnesses. It is not only low blood
pressure but very poor blood flow to critical
organs. And many patients who go into shock
don't survive, particularly if they don't
get urgent care.