High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a chronic condition that causes the blood to flow through the vascular passages under high pressure persistently. Due to the persistent pressure, the blood gets pumped through the vascular passages with more force than usual. This force on the delicate walls of the blood vessels leads to their damage, which affects their function.
Hypertension can have a damaging impact on your heart, as it will have to pump blood through the arteries with tremendous force. In this process of pushing the blood, the heart might get damaged. Which can cause heart failure. Along with heart problems, hypertension also potentiates the risk of several other health issues such as kidney damage, atherosclerosis, and stroke. It is considered one of the major causes of premature death globally.
What Is A Normal Blood Pressure Reading?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an individual with high blood pressure or hypertension has readings of systolic blood pressure greater than 140mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 90mm Hg.
Systolic Blood Pressure
Systolic blood pressure refers to the pressure inside the artery when the heart contracts and pumps blood throughout the body, whereas diastolic pressure refers to the pressure inside the artery when the heart expands to accommodate the blood. The blood pressure is considered normal when it lies in the range of 90/60 mm Hg and 120/80 mm Hg.
When the blood pressure falls below 90/60 mm Hg, the condition is termed low blood pressure or hypotension. Both hypotension and hypertension are not good for your health, as they can have a damaging impact on your body, which affects the quality of your life.
Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure
Although it might not be easy to identify whether an individual is experiencing hypertension, they may gradually develop some health complications at some point in their lives. The damage starts with problems with the function of arteries and the heart. Hypertension is an asymptomatic disease, which requires medical diagnosis. If it is left untreated, it might give rise to other health problems. This is why, it is termed a silent killer, which causes gradual damage.
When the blood pressure surpasses 180/120 mm Hg, one might experience some symptoms that may include chest pain, severe headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, anxiety, breathing problems, blurred vision, buzzing in the ears, increased heart rate, and nose bleeding. The symptoms are so common that one might not think it is serious, but they may indicate hypertension.
Health Risks Due To Hypertension
When the blood flows through the arteries under persistent high pressure, the individual may develop severe health complications that may include heart failure, heart attack, cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney damage, aneurysm (weakening of blood vessels), and eye problems. Such individuals are highly prone to dementia because of decreased flow of blood to the brain.
Moreover, hypertensive individuals may even struggle to focus and perform day-to-day tasks, which might happen due to the impact on cognitive abilities. One might not even realize that they are suffering from hypertension unless they get a blood pressure test done. If the individual fails to seek treatment for this condition at the right time, it can cause serious damage to the body’s organs. It is one of the most common health conditions in adults, which can be managed very well with the help of prescription medications.
Hypertension: Diagnosis and treatment
Your healthcare provider will check your blood pressure and they will enquire about the symptoms you are experiencing, your general health, and your family history. By examining your condition, they will measure your blood pressure with the help of a device. They will get the readings by using the device on both arms since arteries in the arms help in getting the exact blood pressure.
In case the readings obtained are different for both arms, then the one with the higher reading will be considered. They will categorize the reading under a stage, as there are two stages of hypertension – stage 1 and stage 2. Stage 2 is considered the higher. Which can lead to dangerous consequences.
According to the Mayo Clinic, if your readings fall under the stage 2 category, then your doctor will suggest some tests that are listed below:
- Blood tests and urine tests – To check the blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) – This test helps in measuring the heart’s electrical activity.
- Echocardiogram – This test captures images of the beating heart.
- Ambulatory monitoring
Based on the readings and the test reports, the doctor will prescribe some medication that is suitable for your condition.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), several common blood pressure medications include:
- Calcium channel blockers such as felodipine and amlodipine for relaxing the blood vessels.
- Diuretics such as hydrochlorothiazide and chlorthalidone for lowering blood pressure by eliminating excess water from the body.
- ACE inhibitors such as enalapril and lisinopril for relaxation of the blood vessels.
- Angiotensin-2 receptor blockers (ARBs) such as losartan and telmisartan for increasing vascular relaxation.
Ways To Prevent Hypertension
- Healthy diet – Making changes to your diet is the first step towards a healthy life. One must limit their consumption of sodium, and salt is the biggest source of sodium. Increase your intake of vegetables and fruits and avoid oily and fatty foods.
- Weight loss – Obesity or overweight can contribute to blood pressure problems, so lose some weight.
- Exercise – Physical fitness wards off any health difficulty. Exercises as simple as walking, brisk walking, running, dancing, and some strength-building activities can help you keep your blood pressure in check.
- Medication – Take your medications on time. Do not skip the dose, in case you miss it somehow, talk to your doctor.