Hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure is a rather common health condition that affects millions around the globe. In the simplest of terms, hypertension is a condition marked by increased heart activity during which the blood is pumped through the organism harder than it should. While hypertension can often cause very little to no noticeable symptoms, it can put tremendous pressure on the blood vessels, increasing the potential for their cracking and subsequently the development of cardiovascular diseases, heart attack and stroke later in life. Because of this, high blood pressure is often called the silent killer.
Despite the pronounced dangers associated with this condition, hypertension can be easily managed and treated with the right medication. Only when high blood pressure is left unchecked, it can lead to further complications with the potentially lethal outcome. This is why it is extremely important to get familiar with the details, symptoms, causes and available high blood pressure treatments and pay special attention to your heart. For most cases, just a minimal treatment and attention is enough to prevent any complications from occurring due to this heart disease.
What’s on this page?
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is a medical term denoting the pressure circulating blood exerts on the walls of blood vessels. Without further elaboration, blood pressure usually refers to the pressure in large arteries of the systematic circulation. However, medical experts usually differentiate between two separate measures:
- Systolic pressure – Maximum pressure during one heart beat
- Diastolic pressure – Minimum pressure in between two hear beats
Both of those are measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) above the basic atmospheric pressure and both are dependent on the heart’s condition and function. High blood pressure or hypertension occurs when the blood exerts excessive force on the blood vessels, thus increasing the possibility of causing damage.
What is normal blood pressure? How do I know if I have hypertension?
Normal blood pressure is always measured while relaxing, without current or prior stress, physical or psychological and it should be approximately 120/80 mmHg with small deviations depending on the individual. However, if your blood pressure exceeds 140/90 mmHg in resting state, you are very likely to have hypertension or high blood pressure.
It is important to note that some individuals can have naturally high blood pressure without being classified as having hypertension. This is why the above-mentioned value is considered to be a kind of threshold. This means that normal blood pressure can be anywhere between 120 and 139 for systolic measurement and between 80 and 89 for the diastolic without the value indicating a presence of heart disease. However, if you notice that your blood pressure in resting state is nearing 140, you might need to consider some lifestyle changes in order to lower it before you develop hypertension. This is highly recommended as this approach is still in the domain of prevention and not treatment, so your chances of experiencing any negative effects related to your blood pressure are minimized.
Causes and symptoms
The medical experts differentiate between two types of high blood pressure – primary hypertension (also known as essential hypertension) which has, as of now, no identified cause and secondary hypertension which is usually a result of other health problems such as heart disease, medication side effects or hormonal problems. However, even in the case of primary hypertension, there are many possible factors that certainly contribute to elevated blood pressure including:
- Unhealthy and unbalanced diet
- Lack of physical activity and exercise
- Excessive alcohol consumption
The most dangerous thing about high blood pressure is that usually, the symptoms manifest only after the condition caused other health issues, so you might be having hypertension without even knowing it. The best and only solution for this is to regularly visit your doctor or conduct blood pressure readings by yourself at regular intervals in order to keep track of any possible changes. Again, it is important to be aware of the fact that once you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, the condition is easily treated and managed.
However, in rare cases, symptoms can occur without any other impact on health and those usually include:
- Fatigue or confusion
- Vision problems
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeat
- Pounding in chest, neck or ears
How can hypertension affect my health?
High blood pressure is considered to be very harmful, posing a significant risk to the health and wellbeing of an individual if left untreated. Without proper therapy, hypertension can increase the risk of developing severe heart problems and illnesses of the cardiovascular system, stroke, heart attack, haemorrhage, secondary heart diseases and the appearance of blood clots. It is also important to note that healthy women can sometimes develop high blood pressure during pregnancy (so-called pregnancy-induced hypertension). This can lead to eclampsia, a very dangerous condition marked by pronounced convulsions. This is why it is highly recommended for women to get blood pressure readings daily during pregnancy. If untreated, the worst case scenario hypertension can lead to:
- Heart attack and heart failure
- Blood clot in the brain
- Kidney failure
In order to avoid these rather serious and often lethal complications of high blood pressure, it is important to identify your problem early on and get the proper medication.
Who is at risk of hypertension?
As mentioned, primary hypertension or essential hypertension as a most common type of high blood pressure does not have a specific and identified cause which points to the possibility of it being a genetic disease so a family history of the condition can be a strong indicator of elevated risk of developing high blood pressure later in life. For secondary hypertension, there are numerous existing conditions which are considered to be risk factors, including kidney disease or hormonal changes. However, for both of types, there are some common indicators and problems which you should solve where possible in order to prevent high blood pressure. The risk factors include:
- Kidney diseases
- Alcohol abuse
- Fat-rich and salty food
- Lack of physical activity
- High cholesterol
Some of these factors such as the diet, obesity and lack of exercise are related to modern man’s lifestyle and as such they are susceptible to change. If you notice some of the risk factors in your everyday life, just leading somewhat healthier life with more physical activity and less unhealthy food can be enough to prevent this condition from ever occurring.
I have high blood pressure, what can I do?
If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, the good news is there is a lot you can do! Depending of the specifics of your condition, that is, your usual blood pressure, there are different management methods and treatments which can ensure that you’ll live a long and healthy life. If you haven’t developed hypertension and wish to prevent it or you wish to do more aside from taking medication there is a number of things you can do:
- Check your blood pressure regularly
- Make positive lifestyle changes
- Stop smoking if you’re a smoker
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Exercise more
- Have a healthy and varied diet
- Learn some stress or anger management techniques
- Lose weight if you’re overweight
Blood pressure medications
If high blood pressure has been diagnosed, the doctor will usually prescribe you some form of medication, with the most common types being:
- Calcium channel inhibitors
- ACE inhibitors
The first group acts by reducing the tension in the cartilage walls and relaxing the muscles of the heart so that the pressure is reduced. Amlodistad falls into this category of medicaments.
The second group of hypertension drugs inhibits the hormones which are known to cause blood vessels to contract (such as adrenaline), reducing their efficiency and lowering the resistance in the blood vessels.