High blood pressure or hypertension is commonly overlooked or ignored, as it does not cause any symptoms in the early stages. Read the article to find out more about the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment.
Hypertension, as we know, is commonly defined as systolic blood pressure of more than or equal to 140 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure of more than or equal to 90 mmHg. Hypertension in India is increasing at an alarming rate due to the rapidly changing lifestyle and dietary habits. This condition is commonly ignored, resulting in an increase in medical emergencies and the number of deaths.
Hypertension is not a disease per se but a risk factor for many serious illnesses. According to ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) 2018 data, hypertension is attributable to 10.8 % of all deaths in India. It is directly linked to cardiovascular accidents (stroke) and myocardial infarction (heart attack), which are becoming the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in our country.
Understanding Blood Pressure Readings:
The normal blood pressure should be around 120/80 mmHg.
Systolic Pressure - It is the upper value that indicates the pressure in the arteries as the heart pumps out blood.
Diastolic Pressure - It is the lower value that indicates the pressure in the arteries between two heartbeats.
What Are the Symptoms of Hypertension?
High blood pressure does not usually cause any symptoms until it causes other complications. Thus it is also called a "silent killer." It can take more than ten years for these symptoms to appear, and if left untreated, it can be fatal. The symptoms are:
Dyspnea (shortness of breath).
Shoulder and back pain.
Blood in the urine.
What Causes Hypertension?
Based on the cause, hypertension can be divided into:
Primary Hypertension: Otherwise called essential hypertension, and the cause is unknown. Almost 95 % of all hypertension cases are of this type.
Secondary Hypertension: When conditions affecting the kidneys, adrenal glands, and thyroid glands, or cancer, hormonal imbalance, high intake of salt, alcoholism, and a sedentary lifestyle results in high blood pressure, it is called secondary hypertension.
How to Diagnose Hypertension?
Blood pressure can be checked using an instrument called a sphygmomanometer. Only one high blood pressure reading is not used to diagnose this condition. A person is said to be hypertensive only if the blood pressure is elevated for most readings taken in a week. To rule out causes of hypertension, your doctor might suggest you get the following tests done:
ECG (electrocardiogram) - To monitor your heart function.
Renal Function Test - To check the functioning of the kidneys.
Blood Test - To check the levels of serum electrolytes, blood glucose, and cholesterol.
How to Treat Hypertension?
The common medicines used to treat hypertension are:
Diuretics - Chlorthalidone, Hydrochlorothiazide.
Beta-blockers - Atenolol, Acebutolol.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors - Lisinopril, Captopril.
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs) - Candesartan, Losartan.
Alpha-beta Blockers - Carvedilol, Labetalol.
Renin-inhibitors - Aliskiren.
Calcium channel Blockers - Amlodipine, Diltiazem.
Alpha-blockers - Doxazosin, Prazosin.
Aldosterone Antagonists - Spironolactone, Eplerenone.
What Are the Lifestyle Modifications to Be Made?
With various available medicines, high blood pressure can easily be controlled. Besides medicines, people should pay attention to the following lifestyle modification measures.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes daily (walking too is fine).
Maintain a healthy weight.
Limit salt intake.
Meditate to reduce stress.
Limit the consumption of alcohol.
Eat fresh fruits and vegetables.
Go for regular health check-ups with a physician.
What Are the Complications Associated With Hypertension?
Untreated hypertension can lead to:
Chronic kidney disease.
Peripheral arterial disease.
Ischemic heart disease.
To prevent complications or diagnose hypertension early, go for regular checkups or monitor your blood pressure at home. Keep a record of your blood pressure, and consult with a doctor online if you notice that the readings are consistently high.
Last reviewed at:
07 Jun 2022 - 3 min read
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