The amount of blood moving through your blood vessels and the level of resistance the blood encounters while the heart is pounding are factors in measuring your blood pressure.
When the force of blood pressing through your vessels is regularly too high, you have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension or high blood pressure.
What is hypertension?
Narrow blood vessels, also known as arteries, increase blood flow resistance. The more resistance there is in your arteries, the higher your blood pressure. Over time, the increasing pressure might lead to health problems such as heart disease.
Hypertension develops typically over a number of years. Typically, no symptoms are observed. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, high blood pressure can harm your blood vessels and organs, particularly the brain, heart, eyes, and kidneys.
Early detection is critical. Regular blood pressure checks might assist you and your doctor in detecting any changes. If your blood pressure is elevated, your doctor may ask you to monitor it for a few weeks to determine if it remains excessive or returns to normal levels.
Prescription medicines and healthy lifestyle changes are used to treat hypertension. If the illness is not treated, it can lead to serious health problems like heart attack and stroke.
How to Understand Blood Pressure Readings
A blood pressure reading is made up of two numbers. The pressure in your arteries while your heart beats and pumps blood is indicated by systolic pressure (the top number).
Diastolic pressure (bottom number) is a measurement of the pressure in your arteries between heartbeats.
Adult blood pressure values are classified into five categories:
- Healthy blood pressure is less than 120/80 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg).
- Elevated blood pressure means that the systolic number is between 120 and 129 mm Hg and the diastolic number is less than 80 mm Hg. Medication is rarely used to treat high blood pressure. Instead, your doctor may advise you to make lifestyle adjustments in order to lower your numbers.
- Stage 1 hypertension: The systolic pressure is between 130 and 139 mm Hg, or the diastolic pressure is between 80 and 89 mm Hg.
- Stage 2 hypertension occurs when the systolic blood pressure is 140 mm Hg or higher, or the diastolic blood pressure is 90 mm Hg or higher.
- A hypertensive crisis occurs when the systolic pressure exceeds 180 mm Hg or the diastolic pressure exceeds 120 mm Hg. Blood pressure in this range necessitates immediate medical treatment.
- When blood pressure is this high, any symptoms such as chest pain, headache, shortness of breath, or vision abnormalities must be treated in an emergency hospital.
A pressure cuff is used to take a blood pressure reading. It is critical to have a properly fitting cuff for an accurate reading. Incorrect readings may result from an ill-fitting cuff.
What are the signs and symptoms of hypertension?
Hypertension is typically a silent disease. Many folks will have no symptoms. It may take years, if not decades, for the illness to progress to the point where symptoms are visible. Even so, these symptoms could be due to anything else.
Symptoms of severe hypertension can include:
- blood spots in the eyes (subconjunctival haemorrhage)
Except in cases of hypertensive crisis, severe hypertension rarely causes nosebleeds or headaches. Taking frequent blood pressure readings is the best technique to determine if you have hypertension. At every appointment, most doctors’ offices take a blood pressure reading.
If you have a family history of heart disease or other risk factors, your doctor may advise you to have your blood pressure checked twice a year. This allows you and your doctor to stay on top of any potential problems before they become serious.
What factors contribute to high blood pressure?
Hypertension is classified into two categories. Each variety has a unique cause.
Hypertension that is essential (primary)
Primary hypertension is another name for essential hypertension. This type of hypertension develops gradually. This is the most common type of high blood pressure.
In most cases, a combination of variables contributes to the development of essential hypertension:
- Genes: Some people are prone to hypertension genetically. This could be due to inherited gene mutations or genetic abnormalities from your parents.
- Age: People above the age of 65 are more likely to develop hypertension.
- Race: Black non-Hispanic individuals are more likely to have hypertension.
- Living with obesity: Obesity can cause a number of heart concerns, including hypertension.
- High alcohol consumption: Women who drink more than one drink per day and males who drink more than two drinks per day may be at a higher risk of developing hypertension.
- Living a sedentary lifestyle: decreased levels of fitness have been linked to hypertension.
- Living with diabetes and/or metabolic syndrome: People who have diabetes or metabolic syndrome are more likely to acquire hypertension.
- High sodium consumption: A slight link exists between high sodium intake (greater than 1.5g per day) and hypertension.
Secondary hypertension usually develops quickly and is more severe than original hypertension. Secondary hypertension can be caused by a number of disorders, including:
- kidney disease
- obstructive sleep apnea
- congenital heart defects
- problems with your thyroid
- side effects of medications
- use of illegal drugs
- chronic consumption of alcohol
- adrenal gland problems
- certain endocrine tumours
High blood pressure diagnosis
Taking a blood pressure reading is all that is required to diagnose hypertension. Blood pressure is usually checked as part of a routine visit to the doctor’s office. Request a blood pressure reading if you do not receive one at your next appointment.
If your blood pressure is high, your doctor may order more readings over the next few days or weeks. A hypertension diagnosis is rarely made just on a single blood pressure result.
Your doctor must see indications of a persistent condition.
This is because your surroundings, such as stress from being at the doctor’s office, can lead to high blood pressure. Furthermore, blood pressure values fluctuate during the day.
If your blood pressure stays above, your doctor will most likely order more testing to rule out any underlying issues. Among these tests are:
- cholesterol screening and other blood tests
- test of your heart’s electrical activity with an electrocardiogram (EKG, sometimes referred to as an ECG)
- ultrasound of your heart or kidneys
- home blood pressure monitor to monitor your blood pressure over a 24-hour period at home
These tests can assist your doctor in identifying any secondary disorders that are causing your high blood pressure. They can also investigate the impact of high blood pressure on your organs.
Your doctor may start treating your hypertension during this period. Early therapy may lessen your chances of long-term damage.
High blood pressure home remedies
Changes in your lifestyle can help you control the elements that cause hypertension. Here are a few of the most common.
A heart-healthy diet is critical for lowering high blood pressure. It’s also useful for controlling hypertension and lowering the risk of problems. Heart disease, stroke, and heart attack are examples of complications.
A heart-healthy diet focuses on fruits and veggies entire grains lean proteins such as fish
Increasing physical activity
Exercise can help lower blood pressure naturally and strengthen your cardiovascular system, in addition to helping you lose weight (if your doctor has suggested it). Aim for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. That is approximately 30 minutes, 5 times each week.
Getting to a healthy weight
If you have obese, maintaining a healthy weight with a heart-healthy diet and increasing your physical activity will help lower your blood pressure.
Exercise is a great way to manage stress. Other activities can also be helpful. These include:
- deep breathing
- muscle relaxation
- Getting adequate sleep may also help reduce stress levels.
Quitting smoking and minimising alcohol consumption
If you smoke and have high blood pressure, your doctor will almost certainly advise you to quit. Tobacco smoke contains compounds that can harm the body’s tissues and stiffen blood vessel walls.
If you consistently consume too much alcohol or have an alcohol addiction, seek treatment to reduce your drinking or quit completely. Excessive alcohol consumption might elevate blood pressure.
Tips for Lowering Your Risk of Hypertension
If you have hypertension risk factors, you can take steps immediately to reduce your risk of the illness and its complications.
Consume more fruits and vegetables.
Gradually increase your consumption of heart-healthy vegetables. Attempt to consume more than seven servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Then, during the next two weeks, attempt to add one extra dish every day.
Aim to add one extra serving after those two weeks. The daily goal is to consume 10 servings of fruits and vegetables.
Refined sugar should be avoided.
Limit the amount of sugar-sweetened items you consume on a regular basis, such as flavoured yoghurts, cereals, and sodas. Sugar is hidden in packaged goods, so check labels carefully.
Reduce your salt consumption.
People with hypertension and those at high risk of heart disease may be advised by their doctor to limit their salt consumption to 1,500 to 2,300 mg per day.
The easiest strategy to minimise salt is to cook fresh foods more frequently and limit your intake of fast food and prepackaged foods, which might be rich in sodium.
Regularly check your blood pressure.
The greatest method to avoid difficulties and problems is to detect hypertension early. Keep a record of your blood pressure readings and bring it with you to your doctor’s appointments. This can assist your doctor in detecting any potential concerns before the disease worsens.
What are the consequences of high blood pressure?
Because hypertension is usually a silent disorder, it can harm your body for years before symptoms appear. If your hypertension is not addressed, it can lead to significant, even fatal, problems.
Hypertension complications include the following.
Healthy arteries are robust and flexible. Healthy arteries and vessels allow blood to flow freely and unobstructedly. High blood pressure hardens, tightens, and makes arteries less elastic.
This damage makes dietary fats more likely to accumulate in your arteries and limit blood flow. This damage can result in high blood pressure, blockages, and a heart attack or stroke.
High blood pressure makes your heart work too hard. The increased pressure in your blood vessels forces your heart’s muscles to pump more frequently and with more force than a healthy heart should have to.
This may cause an enlarged heart. An enlarged heart increases your risk for the following:
- heart failure
- sudden cardiac death
- heart attack
Your brain relies on a healthy supply of oxygen-rich blood to work properly. Untreated high blood pressure can reduce your brain’s supply of blood:
Temporary blockages of blood flow to the brain are called transient ischemic attacks (TIAs).
Significant blockages of blood flow cause brain cells to die. This is known as a stroke.
Uncontrolled hypertension may also affect your memory and ability to learn, recall, speak, and reason. Treating hypertension often doesn’t erase or reverse the effects of uncontrolled hypertension. But it does lower the risks for future problems.
In the United States, high blood pressure is a fairly prevalent health problem.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure, your treatment approach will rely on various factors. These include the severity of your hypertension and the medication your doctor believes will work best for you.
The good news is that in many cases of high blood pressure, lifestyle adjustments can be effective strategies for managing, if not correcting, your condition.
These adjustments include eating more healthy fruits and vegetables, getting more physical activity, decreasing your sodium intake, and drinking less alcohol.
Because high blood pressure frequently manifests without symptoms, it is critical to have your blood pressure monitored during yearly physicals. Severe high blood pressure can lead to major health problems; thus, the sooner it is detected, the sooner it can be managed – and possibly even reversed!