What is hypertension?
High blood pressure (medical term Hypertension) is a common medical condition where the pressure of the blood in your artery walls is large enough that it might eventually cause health issues, like heart disease.
Blood pressure is determined by two factors:
a) the amount of blood your heart pumps and
b) the arteries resistance to blood flow
Your blood pressure will be higher if there is more blood your heart is pumping and the increased resistance your arteries are offering by narrowing.
You can have hypertension (or high blood pressure) for several years with no signs. Even without any symptoms, damage to blood vessels and heart continues for years and maybe discovered much later. If you do not address your high blood pressure, it can increase your risk of serious health disease, including heart attack and stroke.
High blood pressure can develop over the years, and it affects nearly everyone. Fortunately, high blood pressure is readily detected. And as soon as you know that you have high blood pressure, you can seek medical advice and your best course of action.
Symptoms of hypertension
Many people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even if blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels. Individuals with hypertension may have shortness of breath, headaches, or nosebleeds, but these symptoms are not specific and typically don’t occur until high blood pressure has reached a serious or life-threatening stage.
Causes of hypertension
There are two forms of high blood pressure.
Primary (essential) hypertension
For most adults, there is no recognizable cause of high blood pressure. This type of high blood pressure is known as primary (essential) hypertension. It develops gradually over several years.
Some people have high blood pressure that is caused by an inherent condition. This high blood pressure type is known as secondary hypertension, tends to appear suddenly and cause increased blood pressure than does primary hypertension. Numerous conditions and drugs can lead to secondary hypertension, including:
· Obstructive sleep apnea
· Thyroid problems
· Kidney problems
· Adrenal gland tumors
· Certain blood vessels defects you are born with
· Certain medications, such as cold remedies, birth control pills, over-the-counter pain relievers, decongestants, and some prescription medications
· Illegal drugs, such as cocaine
Hypertension risk factors
High blood pressure has many risk factors:
· Age. The danger of high blood pressure increases as you get older. Until about age 64, higher blood pressure in men is more common. After 65, women are more likely to develop high blood pressure.
· Race. High blood pressure is very prevalent among people of African heritage. Complications such as heart attack and stroke are also more common in people of African heritage.
· Family history. High blood pressure typically runs in families.
· Obesity or overweight. You need more blood, oxygen, and nutrients for your cells based on your weight. As the quantity of blood flow through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure in your artery walls.
· Too much salt (sodium) in your daily diet. Excess sodium in your diet can cause your body to retain fluid, which raises blood pressure.
· Too little potassium in your diet. Potassium helps balance the quantity of sodium in your cells. If you do not get enough potassium in your diet, you might accumulate an excessive amount of sodium in your blood.
· Drinking excess alcohol. Heavy drinking can damage your heart over time. Having more than one drink per day for women and more than two drinks per day for men may impact your blood pressure.
Healthy women should only drink a maximum of one drink per day and men not more than two drinks per day. (1 drink = 12 ounces of beer, 5 oz of wine or 1.5 oz of 80-proof liquor.
· Stress. Elevated levels of stress may result in a temporary increase in blood pressure. If you try to unwind by eating more, using tobacco or drinking alcohol, then you might only increase issues with high blood pressure.
· Not being physically active. People that are inactive can have higher heart rates. Your heart then has to work even harder with every contraction that puts more pressure in your arteries. Lack of physical activity also increases the probability of being overweight.
· Using tobacco. Chemicals in tobacco can damage the lining in the artery walls. This may cause your blood vessels to narrow and raise your risk of cardiovascular disease. Secondhand smoke also can raise your heart disease risk.
· Some chronic conditions such as sleep apnea, kidney disease, and diabetes may increase your high blood pressure risk.
Although adults are most likely to have high blood pressure, kids may be at risk, too. For some children, higher blood pressure is due to issues with the heart or kidneys. However, for an increasing number of children, poor lifestyle habits, such as an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise can contribute to higher blood pressure.
When to see a doctor
You will most likely have your blood pressure taken as the first part of a regular doctor’s appointment for a routine health checkup. If you are 40 or older, or you are 18 to 39 with a high risk of elevated blood pressure, ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading each year. Blood pressure generally ought to be assessed in both arms to determine if there is a difference. It is very important to use an appropriate-sized arm.
Public blood pressure machines, such as those located in pharmacies, may offer useful information about your blood pressure, but they might have some limitations. The truth of these machines is dependent on many factors, like the right cuff size and appropriate use of the machines. Consult your doctor for advice on using public blood pressure machines.
Your doctor will recommend frequent readings if you have already been diagnosed with hypertension or have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Children age three and older will also have blood pressure measured as part of their annual checkups.
If you do not regularly see your doctor, you may be able to get a Free blood pressure screening in a health resource honest or other places on your community. You can even find machines in some shops which will measure your blood pressure at no cost.
The excessive pressure in your artery walls caused by elevated blood pressure can damage your blood vessels, in addition to organs inside your body. The more elevated your blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater the harm.
Untreated high blood pressure can lead to further complications, including:
· Heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure may cause hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which may result in a stroke, heart attack, or some other complications.
· Heart failure. Your heart must work harder to pump blood against the higher pressure on your blood vessels. This extra work causes the walls of the heart’s pumping chamber to become thicker. At some point, the thickened muscle might have trouble pumping enough blood to meet your body’s needs, which may result in heart failure.
· Blood vessels in the eyes. This can lead to vision loss.
· Trouble with memory. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can also affect your ability to think, remember, and learn. The trouble with memory or understanding concepts is much more prevalent in people with high blood pressure.
· Dementia. Narrowed or blocked arteries can restrict blood flow to the brain, resulting in vascular dementia.
· Metabolic syndrome. This is a set of disorders of your body’s metabolism, including increased high blood pressure, higher insulin levels, and a bigger waist size. These conditions can heighten your risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.
Blood pressure measurement
Your doctor or a professional will put an inflatable arm cuff around your arm and measure your blood pressure with a gauge.
A blood pressure measurement in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), has two amounts. The first number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats (systolic pressure). The second number measures the pressure in your arteries in between heart beats (diastolic pressure).
Blood pressure measurements fall into four general classes:
· Regular blood pressure. Your blood pressure is considered to be normal below 120/80 mm Hg.
· Increased blood pressure. Increased blood pressure is a systolic pressure ranging from 120 to 129 mm Hg and a diastolic pressure below 80 mm Hg. Elevated blood pressure will get worse over time unless measures are taken to control blood pressure.
· Stage 1 diabetes. Stage 1 diabetes is a systolic pressure of 130 to 139 mm Hg or a diastolic pressure of 80 to 89 mm Hg.
· Stage 2, hypertension. Systolic pressure 140 mm Hg or greater, diastolic pressure equal to or greater than 90 mm Hg. Both the low and the high numbers in a blood pressure reading are important. But after 50 years of age, systolic reading is much more important.
Blood pressure measurement at home
An easy way to ensure if your blood pressure therapy is working, to confirm if you’ve got high blood pressure, or to diagnose worsening hypertension, is to monitor your blood pressure at home.
Home blood pressure monitors are widely accessible and inexpensive, and you do not need a prescription to purchase one. Speak with your medical team about ways to start with checking your blood pressure at home.
Devices that measure your blood pressure in your finger or wrist are not recommended by the AHA (American Heart Association).
Natural treatments for hypertension
Changing your lifestyle is an effective tool for controlling high blood pressure. Some lifestyle changes that can help are:
· Eating a heart-healthy diet with less salt
· Getting regular physical activity
· Losing weight if you are obese
· Limit or eliminate alcohol
· Quit smoking
But sometimes lifestyle changes are not enough. In addition to diet and exercise, your physician may recommend medication to reduce your blood pressure.
Lifestyle modifications and home remedies
Lifestyle changes can help you prevent high blood pressure, even when you’re taking blood pressure medicine. Here’s what you can do:
· Eat healthful foods. Eat a heart-healthy diet. Attempt the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, and low-fat dairy foods. Get loads of potassium, which may help prevent and control high blood pressure. Eat less saturated fat and trans fat.
· Reduce the salt in your diet. Limit sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day or less. Pay attention to the amount of salt that is in the processed foods you eat in canned soups or frozen dinners.
· Maintain a healthy weight. Losing excess weight if you are obese can help you control your high blood pressure and decrease your risk of associated health issues.
· Increase physical activity. Regular physical activity can help decrease your blood pressure, handle stress, lower your risk of many health issues, and keep your weight in check.
Aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic exercise. Walk fast for 30 minutes or more most days of the week. Or try interval training, where you substitute short bursts of intense activity with brief recovery periods of milder activity. Perform muscle-strengthening exercises two to three days each week.
· Limit alcohol. Even when you’re healthy, alcohol can increase your blood pressure. If you decide to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, this means up to one drink per day for women, and up to two drinks per day for men.
· Do not smoke. Tobacco can injure blood vessel walls and hasten the buildup of plaque in your arteries.
· Manage stress. Reduce stress as much as you can. Practice healthy coping methods, such as muscle relaxation, deep breathing, or meditation. Regular physical activity and full sleep can help.
· Monitor your blood pressure at home. It can help you keep a much better watch on your blood pressure, reveal if treatment is effective, and even alert you and your physician to possible complications. Even if you get regular readings, do not stop or alter your medications or change your diet without talking to your physician first.
· Practice slow, deep breathing. Practice taking slow, deep breaths to help unwind. Yoga and meditation experts can help you with breathing exercises.
· Control blood pressure during pregnancy. If you are a woman with high blood pressure, talk with your physician.
Complementary & Alternative medicine
Although diet and exercise approaches are quite effective to decrease your blood pressure, some nutritional supplements also may help lower it. However, further research may be needed to find out the potential benefits. These include:
· Fiber, such as blonde psyllium and wheat bran
· Folic acid
· Minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium
· Nutritional supplements that increase nitric oxide or widen blood vessels (vasodilators), such as L-arginine, cocoa, coenzyme Q10, or garlic
· Omega-3 fatty acids found in high-dose fish oil supplements or fatty fish
While it’s a good idea to have these supplements in your diet as foods, you may even take supplement capsules or pills. Speak with your physician before including these supplements to your high blood pressure therapy. Some supplements may interact with drugs, causing dangerous side effects, like an increased bleeding risk that could be deadly.
You can also practice other relaxation techniques. Massage, deep breathing, or yoga can help you relax and reduce your stress level. These practices may temporarily lower your blood pressure.
High blood pressure is not an issue that you can cure and then ignore. It is a condition you will need to handle for the rest of your life. To keep your blood pressure under control:
· Take your medications correctly. If side effects or prices pose difficulties, do not stop taking your drugs. Ask your doctor about other choices.
· Schedule routine doctor visits. It requires a team effort to treat hypertension successfully. Your physician can not do it alone, and neither will you. Work with your physician to bring your blood pressure to a safe level, and maintain it there.
· Adopt healthy habits. Eat healthy foods, shed weight, and get regular physical activity. Limit alcohol. If you smoke, stop.
· Manage stress. Say no to additional tasks, release negative thoughts, keep great relationships, and remain optimistic and patient.
Sticking to lifestyle changes can be difficult, particularly if you do not see or feel any signs of high blood pressure. If you require motivation, remember the dangers associated with uncontrolled high blood pressure. It could help to enlist the support of your loved ones and friends also.