High Blood Pressure

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

What is High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure is a medical condition that can lead to many health complications such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, heart failure and kidney failure. The medical term for high blood pressure is Hypertension. High blood pressure is also known as ‘The Silent Killer’ because there are no signs that this medical condition will give a person major health complications or take a person's life.

A network of blood vessels in the human body supplies oxygenated blood (blood enriched with oxygen from the lungs) to the entire body. Blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body are called the Arteries. Blood pressure is the force with which blood is pumped from the heart, and travels through the major arteries of your body.

When this pressure is too high over a long period of time, it puts pressure on the walls of the arteries, and that begins to create complications. Sometimes a narrowing of the arteries means that the heart has to work harder to force more blood through, and again this puts pressure on the heart.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

There are no specific signs that suggest that a person has high blood pressure. So we easily forget about it and get on with our lives, until it is too late.

A few people with high blood pressure might have experienced symptoms like:

  Headache

  Shortness of breath

  Dizziness

  Nosebleeds

  Blood or blood spots in eyes


Usually the high blood pressure may be at a severe stage when these symptoms begin to show and by then, a person may be developing health complications.

It is very important that you know all about high blood pressure, because it is a health condition that once came by, will stay with you for a lifetime and even though there may be medications, you may have to take it for the rest of your life.

Complications of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. The Heart is the engine room of your body and a lot of stress there can just shut it down. The impact can be sudden and can affect anyone young or old.

If not treated and cared in time, high blood pressure can increase various medical complications like:

  Heart Attack or Stroke

  Heart Failure

  Kidney Diseases

  Aneurysm

  Vascular Dementia


How is High Blood Pressure diagnosed?

Blood pressure test is pretty easy. You can always go to your GP doctor or the hospital to have it checked for you or learn to do it yourself at home in the right way. Nowadays automatic devices with sensors and digital displays are commonly used to measure blood pressure.

First, you will be asked to relax, sit comfortably on a chair, or lie on an examination bed and breathe normally. An inflatable blood pressure cuff will be tied round your arm. The cuff is pumped up to restrict the blood flow in your arm for a few seconds. The pressure in the cuff is slowly released and a health expert will use a stethoscope to detect vibrations in your arteries. The health expert will show you the readings when the cuff is completely deflated.

How to understand blood pressure reading?

You will find two numbers in the readings so here we will see how to understand these 2 numbers.

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). A blood pressure reading below 120/80mmHg is considered to be normal and it means you have a systolic pressure of 130mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 80mmHg. If consistently over a period of time, your readings are above 120/80mmHg, the doctor will confirm that you have a high blood pressure. The first number represents the Systolic pressure and the second number represents the Diastolic pressure.

  Systolic Pressure: The pressure of the blood when your heart beats to pump blood out.

  Diastolic Pressure: The pressure of the blood when your heart rests in between beats.


Blood pressure readings are not always the same. They can change depending on the following:

  Time of day: Readings are higher during daytime, and lower during sleep.

  Activity: Readings are higher when a person is exercising or active, and lower during body rest.

  Moods: Readings are higher when a person is happier, excited, afraid or upset.

  Stress or pressure: Readings are higher when a person is stressed or under some kind of pressure.

  Illness: Readings may be higher when a person is ill or has a disease or infection.


Types of High Blood Pressure

Primary (Essential) Hypertension:  This accounts for almost 90% of all hypertension cases. It tends to develop slowly and begins to manifest during old age. It may also result from genetic, behavioral, physical and environmental factors. Primary hypertension is not common in children or teenagers. This Hypertension type shows no identifiable symptoms.


However, a few patients might have symptoms like:

  Headache

  Chest pain

  Shortness of breath

  Dizziness

  Nosebleeds

  Blurry vision

  Blood in urine (Hematuria)


Secondary Hypertension:  This type does not occur very often, even though they are known to have identifiable causes. They are caused usually by peoples' reaction to some medication or some medical conditions. Kids with hypertension tend to have this type.


These medical conditions may cause this form of hypertension:

  Narrowing of the main artery that takes blood from the heart to the rest of the body

  Kidney problems (Renovascular Hypertension)

  Thyroid disease

  Adrenal gland tumors


Resistant Hypertension:  This is a form of high blood pressure which fails to respond to treatment and is thus named ‘resistant hypertension’. This occurs in spite of the many forms of treatment available. Resistant hypertension can also occur in people with adrenal gland problems and fluid retention as a side effect of kidney failure. These are both forms of secondary high blood pressure.

Most people with resistant hypertension can be successfully treated with multiple drugs or with the identification of a secondary cause.


Malignant Hypertension:  A rare but potentially fatal form of high blood pressure where blood pressure rises rather quickly. This very high level of pressure causes bleeding in the retinas in both eyes but can also affect any organs in the body like the kidneys. Typically it affects certain groups of people more than others such as those of African descent, those with kidney failure and pregnant women who have developed complications like pregnancy toxaemia. Younger people are more likely to be affected than older people which is contrary to the normal risk factors for high blood pressure.

The problem with this form is that the symptoms can be very similar to other medical conditions and also the symptoms are usually related to which organ of the body has been affected.

But some common symptoms include:

  Numbness in arms and legs

  Headache

  Chest pain

  Blurry vision


Isolated Diastolic Hypertension:  High blood pressure does not always mean high systolic and diastolic pressure. Sometimes only the diastolic pressure is very high while the systolic pressure is normal. When this happens we call it Isolated diastolic hypertension.


Isolated Systolic Hypertension:  When the systolic pressure is high and the diastolic pressure is normal, we call this Isolated systolic hypertension.


Risk factors of High Blood Pressure

The causes of High Blood Pressure are not clearly known. Research shows that some behaviors or conditions may increase a person’s chances of having a high blood pressure. These are called Risk Factors.

Here are a few top risk factors:

Body Weight:  Being overweight puts a lot of stress on your heart and blood vessels. The heart is forced to work harder than it should. Additionally, fatty deposits, debris and cholesterol in the blood vessels cause the vessels to narrow.

Diet:  Salt makes food very tasty but also causes high blood pressure. Fatty foods also cause the body to build body fat, which can lead to high blood pressure.

Caffeine:  This is a stimulant usually found in energy drinks, tea and coffee. More than 4 cups of coffee or tea per day can gradually build up your blood pressure.

Smoking:  Research says that smoking causes a narrowing of the blood vessels and can increase your chances of getting High Blood Pressure, Stroke or Heart Attack.

Alcohol:  More than 3 units of alcohol per day gradually develop high blood pressure. Alcohol also has a lot of calories and continual drinking makes you gain extra weight, which is a risk factor.

Exercise:  Regular exercise is key in keeping a healthy blood pressure level. This is because exercises keep your cardio-vascular system (heart and the blood vessels) working smoothly and in good condition. Working out regularly, like cycling, running, jogging, walking, playing various sports also keeps your weight in check and that helps keep the blood pressure in control.


How to lower High Blood Pressure

As there are no concrete causes of hypertension, total prevention is almost impossible. However, a good understanding of the risk factors, will greatly minimize any chances of you getting a complication from high blood pressure.

Here are a few important things a person can do:

Medications:

Mainly six drug classes are available to reduce high blood pressure. They are as below:

Alpha Blockers

  Alfuzosin

  Cardura

  Doxazosin

  Flomax

  Minipress

  Prazosin

  Rapaflo

  Silodosin

  Tamsulosin

  Terazosin

  UroXatral


Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors

  Accupril

  Altace

  Benazepril

  Captopril

  Enalapril

  Epaned

  Lisinopril

  Lotensin

  Moexipril

  Perindopril

  Prinivil

  Quinapril

  Ramipril

  Trandolapril

  Vasotec

  Zestril


Angiotensin Receptor Blockers

  Atacand

  Avapro

  Benicar

  Candesartan

  Cozaar

  Diovan

  Edarbi

  Eprosartan

  Losartan

  Micardis

  Olmesartan

  Telmisartan

  Valsartan


Beta‐blockers

  Acebutolol

  Atenolol

  Bisoprolol

  Brevibloc

  Bystolic

  Carvedilol

  Coreg

  Corgard

  Esmolol

  Inderal

  InnoPran XL

  Labetalol

  Lopressor

  Metoprolol Succinate

  Metoprolol Tartrate

  Nadolol

  Nebivolol

  Propranolol

  Tenormin

  Toprol XL


Calcium Channel Blockers

  Amlodipine

  Calan SR

  Cardizem

  Diltiazem

  Felodipine

  Isradipine

  Norvasc

  Nicardipine

  Nifedipine

  Nisoldipine

  Procardia

  Sular

  Tiazac

  Verapamil

  Verelan


Thiazide Diuretics

  Chlorthalidone

  Chlorothiazide

  Hydrochlorothiazide

  Indapamide

  Metolazone

  Sodium Diuril


Diet:

Take:

  Fiber rich foods

  Fruits and vegetables

  Nuts

  Whole grains

  Omega oil and Olive oil

Reduce:

  Sugar

  Salt

Avoid (or at least reduce):

  Fatty foods

  Tea, Coffee

  Energy drinks, Cold drinks

  Smoking and Alcohol


Lifestyle:

  Lose body weight

  Take early and enough sleep

  Do Meditation


Exercise:

  Do Walking or Jogging or Running

  Playing various sports


In all the above, you will notice that taking care of your health and blood pressure is all about lifestyles. As a young person, it is very easy to think that it is ok to eat and drink anything. What you eat now will determine how your health will be in future. So make the right choices now.


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