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Hypertension: Overcome the Highs

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Hypertension: Overcome the Highs

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This article talks about hypertension, a condition in which the pressure exerted by the blood, on the walls of the arteries, is too high.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. K. Shobana

Published At September 27, 2017
Reviewed AtSeptember 16, 2023

What Is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure (BP) is the amount of pressure exerted by the flowing blood upon the walls of the arteries. It is measured by the mm (millimeters) of Hg (mercury).

The normal value is around 120/80 mm Hg. Of which 120 refers to the systolic blood pressure and 80 indicates the diastolic. Systolic blood pressure during heart contraction, and diastolic blood pressure is the blood pressure during relaxation.

What Is Hypertension?

Your blood pressure value is considered hypertension when constantly there is a blood pressure of more than 140/90 mmHg. It is diagnosed by checking the blood pressure serially, at the clinic or at home, preferably twice a day, and noting down the readings for seven days.

What Are the Types of Hypertension?

  • Primary Hypertension: It is called primary hypertension when the high blood pressure does not have a secondary cause. About 95 % of the cases diagnosed with hypertension are of this type.
  • Secondary Hypertension: When the blood pressure is high due to diseases of the kidney, adrenal glands, thyroid glands, tumors, hormonal abnormalities, too much salt intake, alcohol consumption, other medications, etc., it is known as the secondary type.

How Is Hypertension Categorized Based on Blood Pressure Value?

In the case of adults, hypertension is categorized into four stages based on blood pressure values.

Stages of hypertension

What Are the Symptoms of Hypertension?

Also called 'silent killer,' hypertension is a disease that exhibits unnoticeable symptoms but can bring about life-threatening complications.

Symptoms, if it occurs, might include the following:

  • Buzzing or ringing sound in the ear.

  • Irregular heartbeat.

  • Alterations in the vision.

In more severe cases, it causes:

  • Anxiety.

  • Chest ache.

  • Tiredness.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

  • Tremors.

  • Sweating.

  • Confusion.

  • Blushing.

  • Red spots in the eyes.

Bleeding from the nose and early morning headaches are essential indicators of hypertensive crisis, which occurs when the blood pressure levels are abnormally elevated.

What Are the Causes of Hypertension?

The causes of hypertension vary with the type;

Primary Hypertension:

In the case of primary hypertension, there is no such specific cause. It develops with aging and has a gradual pace.

Secondary Hypertension:As previously mentioned, secondary hypertension occurs due to existing conditions, medications, or lifestyle. The following are the causes of secondary hypertension:

  • Medical Conditions -

    • Thyroid disorders.

    • Tumors of the adrenal glands.

    • Obstructive sleep apnea.

    • Renal dysfunction.

    • Congenital disabilities involving the blood vessels.

  • Lifestyle Habits -

    • Excessive intake of salt.

    • Increased alcohol consumption.

    • Usage of illegal drugs like Cocaine or Amphetamines.

  • Medications -

What Increases the Risk of Developing Hypertension?

1. Age:

The risk of developing blood pressure tends to increase with age. Women above the age of 65 and men below the age of 65 are more prone to develop hypertension.

2. Family History of Hypertension:

Hypertension has a solid familial disposition. That is, it runs in families.

3. Smoking and Tobacco Consumption:

Despite its immediate and transient effect on the blood pressure value, tobacco also has an impact in the long run. The harmful chemicals damage and cause constriction of the blood vessels that can increase your chances of heart disease.

4. Regular Alcohol Intake:

Blood pressure is affected by alcohol consumption, especially if it rises above the daily approved limit. This approved amount is one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. One drink, in general, is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

5. Lack of Physical Activity:

This is because, with physical inactivity, heart rates are increased, which causes the heart to engage in forceful contractions. As a result, the force exerted on the arteries is high, which causes hypertension.

6. Increased Salt Intake in the Diet:

Increases salt or sodium intake and causes fluid retention, which, in turn, increases blood pressure.

7. Reduced Potassium Intake:

Potassium is needed for sodium balance, which, if taken in reduced amounts, increases the amount of sodium and thus raises blood pressure.

8. Diabetes and Other Metabolic Syndromes:

These conditions also increase your chances of blood pressure.

9. Stress:

it Brings about a transient increase in blood pressure. Habits that accompany stress may increase the values further.

What Investigations Help in the Diagnosis of Hypertension?

  • Check your BP regularly. You can buy a digital BP monitor and check your BP on the go.

  • Check your ECG (electrocardiogram) and get a 2D echocardiogram to monitor your heart function.

  • Do renal function tests to check the functioning of the kidneys.

  • Check your serum electrolytes.

  • Check for blood glucose levels to know your level of diabetes risk.

  • Get a lipid profile to check cholesterol levels and prevent secondary heart problems.

What Is the Management for Hypertension?

Here is what you must do to avoid complications in the future:

  1. Frequent monitoring of your BP.

  2. Lifestyle and Dietary Modifications:

    1. Regular exercise.

    2. Smoking cessation.

    3. Weight reduction.

    4. Decreased salt intake in the diet.

    5. Increased potassium intake in the form of fruits and vegetables.

  3. Medications:

Regularly taking medications for lowering the BP as prescribed by your physician. Following are the antihypertensive medications:

  1. Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors - These include Lisinopril, Captopril, Benazepril, etc., which work by relaxing the blood vessels. It does so by inhibiting the chemical synthesis that causes the narrowing of blood vessels.

  2. Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers - These drugs also relax the blood vessels but do not block the chemical formation; instead, they inhibit the action. Losartan, Candesartan, etc., fall in this category.

  3. Diuretics - These drugs help reduce blood pressure by removing sodium and water. Hydrochlorothiazide is a widely used antihypertensive drug of this class.

  4. Calcium Channel Blockers - These medications also bring about relaxation of the blood vessels. Drugs that come under this group are Diltiazem, Amlodipine, etc.

  5. In addition to the above, the following groups of drugs are also administered in hypertension:

    1. Alpha blockers like Doxazosin, Prazosin, etc.

    2. Central-acting agents like Methyldopa, Guanfacine, Clonidine, etc.

    3. Beta-blockers like Atenolol, Acebutolol, etc.

    4. Alpha-beta blockers like Labetalol, Carvedilol, etc.

    5. Vasodilators like Minoxidil, Hydralazine, etc.

    6. Renin-inhibitors like Aliskiren.

    7. Aldosterone antagonists like Spironolactone, Eplenerone, etc.

What Are the Complications of Hypertension?

It affects your heart, blood vessels, brain, kidneys, and eyes. It can cause:

  • Heart failure.

  • Ischemic heart disease.

  • Peripheral arterial disease.

  • Stroke.

  • End-stage kidney disease.

  • Retinopathy.

How to Prevent the Occurrence of Hypertension?

To prevent hypertension, start the following now:

  1. Exercise regularly.

  2. Lose excess weight.

  3. Eat healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

  4. Stop smoking.

  5. Quit alcohol.

  6. Reduce stress.

  7. Do meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises.

Conclusion:

Hypertension is not an unheard-of term. However, in terms of its complications, people are not fully aware of it. Lifestyle modifications and changes in diet can help prevent the occurrence of the condition. These changes also have a significant impact on controlling blood pressure and limiting life-threatening complications. With digital sphygmomanometers, measuring blood pressure has become feasible even at home, which can be used to check blood pressure at regular intervals. It is advisable to seek the help of a healthcare provider every six months, especially if you have any of the risk factors or symptoms of hypertension. If visiting the doctor is not possible one can get a online consultations and get a prescription for the same.

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Dr. Krutika Shrikant Ingle
Dr. Krutika Shrikant Ingle

Diabetology

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