“A slowly burning fuse» is how doctors describe hypertension, which affects some 2 million Greeks. But only 70 percent of people with hypertension are aware that they have high blood pressure, while of those who do know, only 51 percent receive treatment. Only one in three sufferers manages to lower their blood pressure, through physical exercise, the correct diet, cutting down smoking and alcohol, and, of course, medical treatment. These facts came out at a press conference given ahead of the Third Panhellenic Symposium on «Hypertension and Organs» that took place in Athens in February. Professor of Cardiology Pavlos Toutouzas, Assistant Professor of Cardiology and head of the Laiko Hospital’s cardiological clinic Vassilis Votteas and Athanassios Manolis, of the Tzaneio’s cardiological unit, said hypertension was diagnosed when systolic and diastolic pressure is equal to or greater than 140 mmHg or 90 mmHg respectively, irrespective of the age of the patient. Ideally, systolic pressure should not be over 120 mmHg and diastolic pressure, not over 80 mmHg. Systolic pressure of 130 mmHg and diastolic pressure of 85 mmHg is normal. According to the European Society of Hypertension, arterial pressure that ranges from 130 mmHg to 139 mmHg and 85 mmHg to 89 mmHg is regarded as «high normal» and should be checked regularly. Experts also talked about means of measuring arterial pressure. «One measurement is not enough to decide whether someone is suffering from hypertension,» said Manolis. Round-the-clock measurements of arterial pressure, at times when the patient is in a calm state, is needed for a diagnosis to be made. The experts clarified that high blood pressure does not cause pain or other symptoms, and headaches, dizziness or nosebleeds on the whole are not associated with raised blood pressure. Hypertension is regarded as one of the major risk factors in heart attacks. Someone with high blood pressure is seven times more likely to suffer a stroke and three times more likely to suffer a myocardial heart attack, heart failure or aortal aneurysm in comparison to a person of the same age with normal blood pressure. The main treatment is through drugs, the doctors said.