What is Hypertension?
Hypertension can be defined as having a blood pressure higher than normal which is 140 over 90 mmHg.
This means that the pressure as the heart pumps blood around the body (systolic) is over 140 mmHg and/or the pressure as the heart relaxes and refills with blood (diastolic) is over 90 mmHg.
This threshold was set by medical experts and once it is crossed or even nearing the threshold, something needs to be done as soon as possible. The lesser the blood pressure the better.
The American Heart Association (AHA) defined the following ranges of blood pressure (in mmHg):
- Normal blood pressure is below 120 systolic and below 80 diastolic
- Prehypertension is 120-139 systolic or 80-89 diastolic
- Stage 1 high blood pressure (hypertension) is 140-159 systolic or 90-99 diastolic
- Stage 2 high blood pressure (hypertension) is 160 or higher systolic or 100 or higher diastolic
- Hypertensive crisis (a medical emergency) is when blood pressure is above 180 systolic or above 110 diastolic.
Statistics of People Affected By Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
People living with hypertension (high blood pressure) are predicted to be about 2 billion worldwide by the year 2025.
Over 75 million people suffer from hypertension in the U.S, with more people dying from hypertension than most other deadly diseases.
Reducing the rate at which hypertension occurs has become a key national priority in the US as part of the Million Hearts initiative from the Department of Health and Human Services. This aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes in the US yearly.
Signs of Hypertension
Hypertension, or high blood pressure doesn’t always present obvious symptoms. The only way to know if you really have high blood pressure is to get your blood pressure taken. It is expected that every adult should at least have their blood pressure checked at least once every five years.
It is dangerous to leave hypertension unchecked or untreated. It could lead to serious diseases such as stroke, heart disease, kidney failure and eye problems. Worst of all it could lead to death.
If your blood pressure is very high, there may be certain symptoms to look out for. Some of these symptoms of hypertension include:
- Feeling severe headache. Some people make the mistake of associating such headaches with pressure of work, family, or any other challenges faced. Yes, the headache may come as a result of that, but if persistent and severe, you should get it checked by a medical doctor.
- Getting fatigued easily even at old age should be reported. It is an indication that your blood pressure needs to be checked.
- Suddenly experiencing vision problems. When objects begin to look blurry, ensure you check for your blood pressure in addition to other medical tests. It could just be that hypertension is around the corner.
- Are you experiencing chest pain? This is another huge pointer. Get it checked out immediately, no self medication.
- Difficulty in breathing. Don’t take cases of breathing difficulty likely especially as seniors. Call the attention of somebody immediately.
- Irregular heartbeat which may be as a result of panic or sudden changes. When it happens too often get your blood pressure checked.
- Always observe your urine. If there is blood in your urine, you’re at risk of experiencing hypertension.
- Pounding in your chest, neck or ears.
Are you experiencing any of these or you know someone experiencing any of these, please seek medical attention immediately. You could be having a hypertension that could lead to heart attack, stroke or death.
Causes of Hypertension
It is not clear yet the exact cause of hypertension (high blood pressure), but there are several factors and conditions that may increase your risk.
A comprehensive list of the factors and conditions are:
- Smokers have been warned that they are liable to experience high blood pressure.
- It has been proven that having too much fat (overweight or obesity) in the body is a high risk factor. People suffering from obesity are at risk of high blood pressure.
- Lack of enough exercise is also a risk factor. We need to exercise regularly even at old age.
- Several occurrences of high blood pressure in the family. Your family history should tell you if you’re most likely to be on the wrong side of blood pressure or not.
- Eating too much salt. You may need to reduce your salt intake for your own health. Too much salt in your diet can make you susceptible to high blood pressure.
- Research has shown that those from the African, Caribbean or South Asian descent suffer from hypertension more than the others.
- Too much alcohol consumption is not good if you have a history of hypertension or members of your family does.
Treatment of Hypertension
Once you realize you’re hypertensive, you need to do away with the kind of lifestyle you were used to before. The food you eat, sports you do, places you go and kind of medications you use need to be scrutinized to ensure they don’t interfere with your high blood pressure treatments and drugs.
Your doctor will recommend some particular diet and exercise schedule that you must follow to the letter. In addition to the diet and exercise, your doctor may also recommend some medications to lower your blood pressure.
The category of medication for hypertension prescribed by your doctor depends on your blood pressure reading and other medications you’re taking for some other reasons.
Some of the medications you may need to treat high blood pressure include:
- Thiazide diuretics. They are often the first choice in treatment of high blood pressure.
- Beta blockers. Help to reduce the workload on your heart and open your blood vessels, thereby causing your heart to beat slower with less force. Beta blockers don’t work well when prescribed alone especially in black and older people.
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. Help relax blood vessels by blocking formation of chemicals that narrows blood vessels.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs). They help relax blood vessels by blocking the action, and not the formation, of a natural chemical that narrows blood vessels.
- Calcium channel blockers. Help relax blood vessels and slow heart rate. They may work better for black and older people than ACE inhibitors alone.
- Renin inhibitors. Slows down production of rennin, an enzyme that starts a chain of chemical steps that increases blood pressure. Renin inhibitors shouldn’t be taken with ACE inhibitors or ARBs it could result in serious complications including stroke.
Preventing High Blood Pressure
Do you want to prevent high blood pressure? Then pay attention to the following;
- Reduce salt intake. The lesser the better.
- Always exercise regularly
- Avoid smoking. If you’re addicted to smoking, for your own sake please get help.
- Reduce or totally stop alcohol consumption
- Avoid overweight or obesity by all means