High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a chronic condition that can cause silent death over time. The prevalence of hypertension, according to WHOstatistics, has risen to 1.28 billion people worldwide.
Doctors call it a silent killer because of two main reasons:
Hypertension doesn’t get diagnosed early because of being symptom-less.
Hypertension is the underlying cause of many other severe illnesses such as heart failure, metabolic syndrome, and aneurysms.
This blog aims to educate you about hypertension from scratch so that possible lifestyle changes can be adopted to delay the onset of this condition, and an early diagnosis can be made before things get worse.
What is Hypertension?
Blood pressure is the measure of the force that our blood exerts on the walls of our blood vessels while being circulated and the resistance it faces while traveling via our vessels.
Our heart beats 72 times per minute. With each beat, the heart pumps blood to all body parts with maximum pressure, also called systolic pressure. The normal systolic pressure is 120mm of Hg.
As the heart rests between consecutive beats, there is the least pressure in the vessels, also called diastolic pressure. The normal diastolic pressure is 80mm of Hg.
Hypertension or high blood pressure is when systolic, and diastolic pressure rises above normal levels. One may not experience any symptoms of the condition for years, making it one of the severe medical conditions.
Types of Hypertension
While the physiology remains the same in both the types of hypertension, i.e., primary (essential) hypertension and secondary hypertension, the differences arise in the onset and the causes.
Primary (essential) hypertension: The onset of this kind of hypertension occurs over time with no definite identifiable cause. A large population often develops this type of hypertension.
Secondary hypertension: This type of condition is due to some underlying cause. Secondary hypertension often develops quickly, and the severity is also high. Some other causes include:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Drugs such as cocaine
Congenital heart anomalies
Adrenal gland problems
Tumors of various endocrine gland
Symptoms of Hypertension:
Being a silent condition, one may not show any signs and symptoms initially. But as the condition progresses and becomes severe, your symptoms will start bothering you until you address them.
Severe symptoms include:
Risk Factors that Lead to Hypertension:
While the exact etiology of primary hypertension is yet to be known, the potential risk factors that start accumulating over time are as follows:
Aged people are at higher risk
Family history of hypertension
Some ethnicities are more prone to develop hypertension
Too much salt in the diet
Other chronic conditions
What to Expect from a Doctor:
If you experience any of the above symptoms, book an appointment with your primary care physician. You will have to make frequent visits so that your blood pressure is checked at regular intervals and an accurate diagnosis is made.
Once the doctor is sure that there is no other underlying cause resulting in elevated blood pressure, they will start your treatment depending upon your readings.
Simple lifestyle changes often manage primary hypertension. In the case of secondary hypertension, more emphasis is laid on treating the other chronic condition.
Often, treatment plans and medications change over time, considering the improvement in blood pressure readings or severity.
The medication that your doctor might prescribe you is Beta-blockers, which will slow down your heartbeat to exert less force.
Additionally, you may also be prescribedDiuretics, ACE inhibitors, ARBs, and Calcium channel blockers. The end result of all the medication will be to dilate the blood vessels and relax to lower blood pressure.
Complications of Hypertension:
Untreated hypertension can lead to severe complications. It can damage other vital organs of the body. Some of the chronic effects are as follows:
While hypertension may not be cured 100%, it can be managed significantly to minimize the risk of developing other life-threatening medical conditions.
Make a healthy diet an integral part of your life. Eat fruits and vegetables as much as possible. Cut down excessive meat from your diet. Keep minimum intake of sodium. Slack the sweet consumption from your life.
Start doing exercise. Physical activity will organically lower blood pressure. Do a cardio workout, lose some weight, and run a few miles to notice the changes!
Stress management is critical. Start meditation, deep breathing, and possibly yoga to lower down your stress levels.
Say no to intoxicants. Stop alcohol usage. Quit smoking. And cut down any of your drug intakes.
Way Ahead if you have been Diagnosed with Hypertension:
Firstly, don’t stress out and panic. Stressing out will only aggravate your condition.
Your blood pressure might come down to normal levels with time if you follow your treatment plan consistently.
Just don’t be too hard on yourself. A healthy diet, an active routine, and extra precautions will help you cope. Because in the end, discipline and persistence are the keys!