• All You Need to Know about Hypertension

    on Jan 18th, 2018

What is Hypertension?

What is blood pressure? Blood pressure is the force exerted by the blood against the walls of blood vessels, and the magnitude of this force depends on the cardiac output and the resistance of the blood vessels.

What is hypertension or high blood pressure?

Hypertension is defined as having a blood pressure higher than 140 over 90mmHg. This fact is generally agreed upon across medical guidelines. The first number is your systolic reading. The systolic number measures the pressure of the heart pumps blood around the body. The second number is your diastolic reading. The diastolic number measures how quickly your heart relaxes and refills with blood. Stage one hypertension occurs you’re your systolic blood pressure is between 140 and 159 or your diastolic pressure is between 90 and 99. During this stage, lifestyle changes may be suggested, such as dieting and exercise, and some medication may be prescribed. Hypertension is a common but dangerous condition. One in every four adults in the United States has hypertension, but many are unaware of their condition. Untreated hypertension increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Hypertension can also damage other organs such as the kidneys, increases the risk of blindness, and increases the risk of dementia. Because so many people are unaware of their condition and of the seriousness of having untreated hypertension, it is often referred to as a “silent killer.” Although hypertension is not a cardiovascular disease it does have a great potential to overburden the heart and blood vessels and potentially cause heart disease. Chronic conditions are those that last 3 or more months. Hypertension is typically a lifelong condition and is seen as a chronic condition that is manageable with diet, exercise, and medication.

Types of Hypertension

There are two major types of hypertension. The majority of people who have hypertension fall into the category of primary hypertension. The cause of their high blood pressure is unknown. Here are descriptions and causes of both primary and secondary hypertension.

1. Essential or primary hypertension is high blood pressure that has no known secondary cause. This type of hypertension is diagnosed after a doctor notices that your blood pressure is high on three or more visits and eliminates all other causes of hypertension. Usually, people with essential hypertension have no symptoms. Although there is no known cause for this type of hypertension researchers know that heredity, smoking, alcohol, and diet are all contributing factors to essential hypertension.

2. Secondary hypertension can be caused by conditions that affect your kidneys, arteries, heart or endocrine system. Other causes include airway obstruction during sleep, diseases, and tumors of the adrenal glands, hormone abnormalities, thyroid disease, and too much salt or alcohol in the diet.

More Types of Hypertension:

Pulmonary hypertension is a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in your lungs as well as the right side of your heart. Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension are irregular heartbeat, racing pulse, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.

Intracranial hypertension is a condition due to high pressure within the spaces that surround the brain and spinal cord. These spaces are filled with cerebrospinal fluid which cushions the brain from mechanical injury, provides nourishment, and carries away waste. The most common symptoms of intracranial hypertension are headaches and visual loss, including blind spots, poor peripheral vision, and temporary blindness. Some patients experience permanent vision loss. Other symptoms include ringing in the ears, neck pain, and shoulder pain.

Cause of Hypertension

What causes hypertension? Stress, intense exercise and other factors can briefly elevate blood pressure even in people whose blood pressure is normal. Having high blood pressure for a short amount of time is a normal physiological response to many situations. A diagnosis of hypertension requires several readings showing high blood pressure over time. However, if your systolic reading is 180 mmHg or higher or if your diastolic reading is 110 mmHg or higher this requires immediate medical attention. There are many things that can contribute to the cause or onset of hypertension. Here are a few things that may cause high blood pressure.

Inactivity. Leading a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to hypertension. An active lifestyle is needed to get your blood pumping on a consistent basis.

Salt Rich Diet. Eating salty foods raises the amount of sodium in your bloodstream. This reduces the ability of the kidneys to remove water. The result is swelling of your limbs and higher blood pressure due to extra fluid and extra strain on the blood vessels leading to the kidneys.

Alcohol and Tobacco. Consumption of alcohol causes your heart rate to increase, blood vessels to dilate, and blood flow to increase. These effects cause blood pressure to rise. If you are already aware of having hypertension you should consider cutting back of the number of alcoholic beverages you consume.

Age. Everyone is at a greater risk of having hypertension as they get older. The condition is more common amongst individuals 60 years and older.

Race. Hypertension is prevalent amongst African Americans. This commonness makes African Americans more likely to get high blood pressure than any other group of people.

Weight. Being overweight or obese puts you at a great likelihood of getting hypertension.

Hypertension Symptoms

How do you know you have hypertension? There are few hypertension symptoms most individuals are asymptomatic. Patients don’t typically experience any symptoms specifically related to their condition of hypertension.

Pulmonary hypertension is a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in your lungs as well as the right side of your heart. Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension are irregular heartbeat, racing pulse, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.

Essential or primary hypertension is high blood pressure that has no known secondary cause.

Intracranial hypertension is a condition due to high pressure within the spaces that surround the brain and spinal cord. These spaces are filled with cerebrospinal fluid which cushions the brain from mechanical injury, provides nourishment, and carries away waste. The most common symptoms of intracranial hypertension are headaches and visual loss, including blind spots, poor peripheral vision, and temporary blindness. Some patients experience permanent vision loss. Other symptoms include ringing in the ears, neck pain, and shoulder pain.

When does hypertension become life-threatening? First, let’s discuss the difference between hypertensive urgency and hypertensive emergency. Hypertensive urgency is when your blood pressure is greater than 180 over 120 mmHg in the absence of progressive target organ dysfunction. Individuals with hypertensive urgency will likely have their medications adjusted. Hypertensive emergency is when your blood pressure is greater than 180 over 120 mmHg in the presence of target organ damage. Hypertensive emergency shows the effect on your body’s organs resulting in physical manifestations such as stroke, seizure, acute heart failure, acute renal failure, and many others.

Complication of Hypertension

Hypertension causes excessive pressure on the artery walls and can damage your blood vessels and organs in your body. The higher your blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater the damage. Unmanaged high blood pressure can lead to complications in your body.

Complications of Hypertension include:

Heart Attack. Heart attacks are one of the worst but common diseases associated with unmanaged and untreated hypertension. Heart attacks occur because the arteries harden and narrow. This affects your blood flow.

Stroke. Strokes can happen when blood flow is restricted to one or more of the blood vessels that give blood to your brain.

Aneurysm. An aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of a blood vessel. This is a potential cause of atherosclerosis, which weakens and damages the artery wall. Over time, high blood pressure in a weakened artery can cause a section to enlarge and form a bulge. Aneurysms can rupture and cause life-threatening internal bleeding.

Heart Failure. Congestive heart failure comes from over-stressing your heart. This happens because narrow arteries are difficult for the heart to pump blood through.

Weakened and Narrowed Blood Vessels in Your Kidneys. Kidney disease can become a complication of hypertension. Your kidneys are designed to filter waste products from your blood. They also regulate electrolytes and rid your body of excess liquids through urine. Hypertension affects the function of these organs. If blood is restricted to the kidneys it limits the ability to eliminate waste. The damage can be irreversible.

Thickened, Narrowed or Torn Blood Vessels in the Eyes. Hypertension can damage high blood vessels in the eyes. Restricted blood flow in any part of your body can cause damage to the blood vessels in your retina. It is common for patients who are diagnosed with hypertension to slowly develop eye diseases.


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