High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, medically called hypertension, is a common, chronic medical condition. It occurs when the force of blood circulation against the walls of arteries exceeds the standard set by health experts. The arteries are the vessels that supply the blood to all parts of the body, while veins bring the oxygen-poor blood back to the heart.
Blood is pumped to and from the heart, a muscular organ that pumps blood to all areas of the body. This heart-pumping action causes blood pressure to rise and fall, making it easier for blood to flow through blood vessels. When evaluating blood pressure, two readings are taken and measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) — with each reading being separated by a slash.
The top number is called the systolic pressure and it measures the pressure when the heart contracts, while the lower number is called the diastolic pressure which measures the pressure when the heart expands and fills with blood.
High blood pressure can lead to a number of serious health conditions, including:
- Heart failure
- Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)
- Kidney disease
- Vascular dementia
According to the American College of Cardiology’s 2017 Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, and Evaluation of High Blood Pressure in Adults, normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg. It’s considered elevated if systolic blood pressure measures between 120 and 129 mm Hg and diastolic stays below 80 mm Hg. Blood pressure that measures above 130 mm Hg systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic is classified as “high blood pressure.”
High blood pressure is brought on by many different factors — genetics, aging, family history, diet, weight, etc…
Types of High Blood Pressure
Stage 1: When systolic blood pressure measures between 130 and 139 or diastolic is between 80 and 89, it is stage 1 hypertension. In this stage, it’s difficult to feel any noticeable symptoms but, it’s important to watch for signs of high blood pressure to keep it under control.
Stage 2: At stage 2, the systolic blood pressure reaches 140 mm Hg or greater and the diastolic blood pressure is 90 mm Hg or higher.
Stage 3 (Hypertensive Crisis): Hypertensive crisis means that the systolic number is over 180 mm Hg and/or the diastolic number is over 120 mm Hg. This level of blood pressure requires emergency care and can lead to heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, and other life-threatening conditions.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of High Blood Pressure
Different people experience different symptoms of high blood pressure. One’s head feeling heavy, dizziness, breathing problems, nose bleeds, and fast heartbeats are some of the common symptoms of hypertension. In many cases, though, no symptoms or warning signs appear for months.
The best way to keep an eye on high blood pressure and make a timely diagnosis is to do regular monitoring — especially after the age of 35. If high blood pressure is diagnosed once, regular monitoring is essential to prevent a hypertensive crisis. The good thing is that no extensive testing is needed to diagnose high blood pressure and a simple reading is enough to know.
Treatment of High Blood Pressure
The causes of hypertension vary from one patient to the next and the severity of each case can be different. This is why each treatment option must be tailored to the individual. For example, if the patient has stage 1 hypertension, lifestyle changes and medication can help lower blood pressure levels. However, if stage 2 hypertension was identified, a detailed check-up and treatment may be necessary because high blood pressure can be the cause of another issue in the body.
Medication has been a trusted way to treat high blood pressure for years. From ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers to diuretics and calcium channel blockers, there’s a variety of options to best suit your needs.
Managing High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can be prevented by avoiding excess caffeine, following a healthy diet, quitting smoking, avoiding excess alcohol, regularly exercising, and managing other factors like obesity and mental stress. It is vital to regularly monitor blood pressure and treat hypertension early on in order to reduce the probability of any serious complications.
- What causes high blood pressure? Lack of physical activity, a diet with high sodium, obesity, age, stress, and genetics are all common causes of high blood pressure.
- Do other diseases affect blood pressure? Any condition that causes an irregular heartbeat or disrupts the flow of blood in the body can cause hypertension. These conditions include hypothyroidism, kidney disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
- Who is at risk of developing high blood pressure? Anyone can develop high blood pressure. People with unhealthy lifestyles, certain habits, particular genetics, and who are of a certain age are at a greater risk of developing it. Obesity, smoking, family history of high blood pressure, pregnancy, and sedentary lifestyles too put people at a greater risk of high blood pressure.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!