Hypertension (High blood pressure) is a state in which the power of circulating blood is exerted against the arterial walls is high enough that it considerably increases the risk of numerous health complications.
Blood pressure is measured by both – how much blood your heart pumps and how much blood flow resistance you have in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps, the narrower your arteries are, the higher your blood pressure. A blood pressure measurement is given in millimetres of mercury (m Hg). There are 2 numbers.
- Top number (systolic pressure). The first one measures blood pressure as your heart pumps blood.
- Bottom number (diastolic pressure). The second measurement is the pressure in your arteries when the heart is resting.
You may experience hypertension for years without any symptoms. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to serious health issues, including heart attack and stroke. Fortunately, hypertension can be easily noted. And once you know that you have high blood pressure, you can take assistance from your doctor to monitor it.
There are two types of hypertension. There’s a separate cause for every type
Primary hypertension is also known by the name of essential hypertension. This type of hypertension occurs over time with no notable cause. Most people suffer from this type of hypertension.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES?
Researchers still do not know which mechanisms are causing blood pressure to rise slowly. A number of factors can play a role. Some of these factors include:
- Genes: Certain individuals are genetically predisposed to high blood pressure. This can be caused by genetic mutations or genetic defects inherited from your previous generation.
- Physical changes: If anything in your body changes, you can start experiencing problems all over your body. Hypertension can be one such condition. For instance, changes in renal function due to aging are thought to disrupt the body’s natural balance of salts and fluids. This may lead to increased blood pressure in the body.
- Environment: Over time, unhealthy lifestyle choices such as lack of exercise or physical activity and poor nutrition may have a negative impact on your body. Lifestyle choices may result in weight issues. Obesity can raise the risk of high blood pressure.
Secondary hypertension often occurs more rapidly and can be worse than primary hypertension. A number of conditions can cause secondary high blood pressure. These conditions consist of:
- kidney disease
- obstructive sleep apnea
- congenital heart defects
- You have thyroid problems.
- side effects of drugs.
- use of illegal drugs
- alcohol abuse or chronic use
- adrenal gland issues.
- a number of endocrine tumours.
What are the symptoms of hypertension?
Hypertension is typically a quiet or silent condition. A lot of people don’t have any symptoms. It can be years or even decades before the disease reaches levels serious enough that the symptoms become visible. Even then, these signs can be attributed to other problems.
Severe hypertension symptoms may include the following:
- shortness of breath (dyspnea)
- nose bleeds
- chest pain
- visual changes
- blood in urination (hematuria)
Such symptoms require immediate medical treatment. They do not happen in everyone with high blood pressure, but while waiting for a symptom of this condition to appear could be life-threatening.
The best way to determine if you are suffering from hypertension is to check your blood pressure regularly. Most clinics measure blood pressure at each appointment.
There are many risk factors associated with hypertension. These include:
- Age. The risk of hypertension increases according to your age. Up to the age of about 64, hypertension is more common among males. Women are at greater risk of developing hypertention pressure after the age of 65.
- Race. Hypertension is especially common in people of African descent, often developing at a younger age than in whites. Severe health problems, such as strokes, heart attacks and kidney failure, are also more common among people of African descent.
- Family history. Hypertention usually runs into families.
- Being obese. The more weight you have, the more blood you need to provide oxygen and nutrients to your body. As more blood moves through your blood vessels, the pressure on your arterial walls also increases.
- Not being physically active. People who are not active have a tendency to have a higher heart rate. The higher your heart rate, the more your heart has to work with every contraction and the greater the force exerted on your arteries. Not being physically active also increases the risk of obesity.
- Using tobacco. Not only does smoking and chewing tobacco immediately increase your blood pressure temporarily, but the chemicals in tobacco can damage the walls of your arteries. This can result in narrower arteries and a higher risk of heart disease. Smoke may also increase your risk of heart disease.
- Too much salt (sodium) in your diet. Too much sodium in your diet can result in your body holding the liquid, which increases blood pressure.
- Too little potassium in your diet. Potassium provides a balance between the amount of sodium in your cells. Healthy potassium balance is essential to good heart health. If you do not take the necessary potassium in your diet, or you lose too much potassium as a result of dehydration or other health problems, sodium can increase in your blood.
- Drinking too much alcohol. Over time, too much alcohol may damage your heart. Having more than one glass per day for females and more than two glasses per day for males can affect your blood pressure. If you consume alcohol, do so in limited quantities. For healthy adults, this means up to one glass per day for females and two glasses per day for males. A beverage is equal to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
- Stress. Increased stress levels may result in temporary increases in blood pressure. Stressful habits such as overeating, smoking or alcohol may result in further increases in blood pressure.
- Certain chronic conditions. certain chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease, sleep apnea can increase your risk of high blood pressure.
In some cases, pregnancy also causes high blood pressure.
Although hypertension is more common in adults, children may be at risk as well. In some children, hypertension is caused by kidney and heart problems. But for an increasing number of children, bad habits like unhealthy eating and lack of exercise can also lead to high blood pressure.
Too much pressure on your arterial walls caused by hypertention can damage your blood vessels and organs. The higher your blood pressure and the more uncontrolled it remains, the more damage it causes.
Complications associated with uncontrolled hypertension include:
- Heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure can result in hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), that may cause a heart attack, stroke or other problems.
- Aneurysm. Raising blood pressure can weaken and swell your blood vessels, forming an aneurysm. If an aneurysm breaks, it can be life-threatening.
- Heart failure. To pump blood from the higher pressure in your vessels, the heart needs to work harder. This results in thickening of the walls of the heart chamber (left ventricular enlargement). Lastly, the thickened muscle may struggle to pump enough blood to meet the needs of your body, which can contribute to heart failure.
- Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in your kidneys. This may cause these organs to fail to function normally.
- Thickened, narrowed or ruptured blood vessels in the eyes. This can result in lost vision.
- Metabolic syndrome. This syndrome is a group of metabolic disorders of your body that includes increased waist, high triglycerides, reduced high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), high blood pressure with high insulin levels. These conditions make you more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
- Trouble with memory or understanding. Uncontrolled hypertension may also affect the ability to think, remember and learn. Problems with memory and understanding of concepts are more common in people with high blood pressure.
- Dementia. Narrowed or blocked arteries may reduce blood flow to the brain, resulting in some type of dementia called vascular dementia. A stroke that resists blood circulation to the brain may also lead to vascular dementia.
How to understand high blood pressure readings
2 no make a blood pressure reading:
- Systolic pressure: That’s the first number, or the top number. It shows pressure in your arteries as your heart is beating or pumping blood.
- Diastolic pressure: This is the second, or lesser, number. This is the measurement of the pressure in your arteries between the beats of your heart or when the heart is at rest.
There are 5 categories that define blood pressure measurements for adults:
- Healthy: Healthy blood pressure results in less than 120/80 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg).
- Elevated: Systolic pressure ranges from 120 to 129 mm Hg, with diastolic pressure less than 80 mm Hg. Physicians are not taking medicines to treat high blood pressure. Instead, your physician may suggest lifestyle changes to help relieve your pressure.
- Stage 1 hypertension: Systolic pressure ranges from 130 to 139 mm Hg, and diastolic pressure ranges from 80 to 89 mm Hg.
- Stage 2 hypertension: The systolic pressure is equal to or greater than 140mm Hg or 90mm Hg or greater.
- Hypertensive crisis: Systolic pressure is greater than 180 mmHg, or diastolic pressure is greater than 120 mmHg. Blood pressure within that range requires immediate medical attention. If one of these symptoms such as chest pain, headache, shortness of breath (dyspnea), or visual changes occur when blood pressure is so high, health care in the emergency room is necessary.
A blood pressure measurement is performed using a pressure cuff. For a specific reading, it is important that you have the right armband. A low cuff may result in inaccurate readings.
There is a difference in blood pressure in children and adolescents. Talk to your child’s doctor about checking his or her blood pressure.
Treatment options for high blood pressure
Several factors assist your doctor in determining the best treatment option for you. These factors are: the type of high blood pressure you have and the causes that have been determined.
Primary hypertension treatment options
If you are diagnosed with primary hypertension, lifestyle changes can help reduce your high blood pressure. If lifestyle changes are not enough, or if they are not as effective, your doctor can prescribe medication.
Secondary hypertension treatment options
If your doctor discovers an underlying problem causing your high blood pressure, treatment will be targeted at that other problem. For example, if a medication you have started to take leads to an increase in blood pressure, your doctor will try other medications that do not have this side effect.
Sometimes high blood pressure is persistent even though the underlying cause is being treated. In this case, your doctor may recommend that you change your lifestyle and prescribe drugs to reduce your blood pressure.
Treatment plans for high blood pressure often change what worked in the beginning can become less useful over time. Your physician will continue to work with you to improve your treatment.
High blood pressure during pregnancy
Women with high blood pressure may produce healthy babies even if they have hypertention. However, it can be dangerous for both the mother and the baby if left unattended and managed during pregnancy.
Women with hypertension have a higher chance of developing complications. For example, pregnant women with high blood pressure can have decreased renal function. Infants born with hypertensive mothers may have low birthweight or may be born prematurely.
Some women can experience high blood pressure during pregnancy. Several types of problems associated with hypertention can occur. The situation is often reversed at the time the baby is born. High blood pressure during pregnancy may raise your risk of developing high blood pressure later in life.
In some cases, pregnant women suffering from high blood pressure can develop pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. This high blood pressure situation may result in renal and other organ complications. This may result in high levels of protein in the urine, problems with hepatic function, fluid in the lungs, or visual problems.
As this condition becomes more severe, the risk to the mother and baby increases. Preeclampsia may result in eclampsia, which may result in seizures. High blood pressure during pregnancy continues to be a significant cause of maternal death in the U.S. Complications to the baby include low birth weight, early birth and stillbirth (death of the baby during partition).
There is no well-known way to prevent pre-eclampsia, and the only way to cure that disease is to give birth to the baby. If you develop this disease during your pregnancy, your doctor will watch you closely for complications.
Effects of high blood pressure on the body?
Because high blood pressure is often a quiet state, it can cause damage to your body for years before symptoms become apparent. Without treatment for hypertension, you may face serious life-threatening complications.
Complications associated with hypertension include:
Healthy arteries are highly resilient or flexible and blood circulates freely and unrestricted across healthy arteries and vessels.
Hypertension makes the arteries more difficult, tighter and less elastic. These damages make it easier to store dietary fats in your arteries and limit blood circulation. This damage may result in increased blood pressure, blockages, and eventually a heart attack and stroke.
Blood pressure is making your heart work too hard. High pressure in your blood vessels forces your heart muscles to pump more often and with great force than a healthy heart should be required to do.
That can contribute to an enlarged heart. Having an enlarged heart increases the risk of:
Your brain is dependent upon an oxygen-rich blood supply to function effectively. Hypertension may decrease your brain’s blood supply.
- Temporary or transient blockages of blood circulation to the brain are referred to as transient ischemic attacks (TIA).
- Major blockages of blood circulation cause the death of brain cells. It is referred to as a stroke.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure may also affect your memory, your ability to learn or remember, your words and your reasoning. Treating high blood pressure often fails to remove or reverse the effects of uncontrolled high blood pressure. But this reduces the risk of future complications.