High blood pressure gauge

Hypertension: High Blood Pressure

Hypertension is defined as a sustained High Blood Pressure (BP) measured correctly on 3 separate occasions. A Diagnosis of Hypertension (High BP) can be made same day if BP is too high, that is more than 180/100mmHg.

One important thing that most people don’t know about Hypertension is that it can be managed at home without any pills especially in early stages.

A BP of 130/80 or Higher is considered Hypertension. Generally your BP should remain below 120/80.

Classification of hypertension
Classification of Hypertension

What Is Blood Pressure?

Basic definition of blood pressure is that it is a pressure exerted by blood on the walls of Arteries (blood vessels).Think of it as a Hose pipe connected to a Tap. Blood pressure in this case would be the pressure of water inside the hose. If you open the tap halfway to allow little water to flow, then the pressure inside would be low but if you block the exit point the pressure increases.

In Humans BP is expressed in fraction because there are two pressures inside our Blood vessels. The top value, called Systolic BP indicates pressure when the Heart is Beating (Pumping), when the heart relax in preparation for the next Pump we get a Diastolic value(the Denominator). This means Systolic BP will always be greater than Diastolic BP.

Medically BP= Cardiac Output(CO) X Total Peripheral Resistance(TPR)

Explanation of Blood Pressure

It is estimated that 46% of adults in USA ( 4 in 10 adults) have Hypertension

Only 75% are being treated and only 51% actually have their BP in acceptable levels. Black people are affected more than all other Races.

Dangers of High blood pressure

If High BP is not treated, it can cause many serious problems which include:

  • Heart Failure
  • Heart attack or Myocardial Infarction(MI)
  • Stroke
  • Kidney Failure
  • Retinopathy (Blindness)

Read the main article on Damages caused by hypertension with full details Here.

Complications of Hypertension
Complications of Hypertension

There is significant Reduction in the above mentioned complications if BP is treated early and effectively.

Causes and Risk Factors

There are two main types of Hypertension and with different causes:

  1. Primary Hypertension , previously called Essential Hypertension
  2. Secondary Hypertension

Primary Hypertension is the most common type among healthy people. It has no single cause but a combination of risk factors. People at risk of developing Primary Hypertension include: Smokers, Social stress and Depression. Obesity, High salt diet, lack of exercise, Close relative or Family member with Hypertension and excessive alcohol use.

Secondary hypertension has a cause that can be treated . Causes include:

  • Thyroid Disorders ( Hyperthyroidism or Hypothyroidism)
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Pregnancy ( Pregnancy Induced Hypertension)
  • Aortic Coarctation
  • Kidney disease (CKD)

What are Symptoms of High BP?

Unfortunately High BP does not have symptoms in early stages. Symptoms appear if the BP has already started to do some damage to any of its Target Organs (Heart, Kidney, Eyes or Brain).

Sometimes when the BP is Too High (that is BP>180/100) people start to experience some none specific symptoms like:

  • Headache and dizziness
  • Night Sweats
  • Seizures if Blood pressure is too high
  • Blurry Vision
  • Hot flushes and weakness on 1 side of the body.
  • Sometimes it comes as Stroke

How to Lower Your BP?

If you are diagnosed with Hypertension, there is a lot you can do to Help your doctor in lowering BP. There are 3 main areas of focus which significantly reduce BP:

Unhealthy food
Highly processed food is wrong
  • Diet: High Sodium diet is known to increase BP, it is important to eat food low in Sodium or try to consume a total of 3000mg or less of Sodium per day. Avoid food that is Highly processed because it contains a lot of sodium. Foods such as Polony, Canned Food, Hot Dogs and cheese should be avoided. Home cooked food is always better.
  • Exercise: Research has shown that an increase in exercise, especially Cardio-exercises such as running, swimming, cycling or  high paced activity Reduce BP back to normal levels and some people even stop taking treatment forever.
  • Weight Loss: Obesity is a major risk factor of many diseases including the killer disease Diabetes Mellitus. It is very important to start a weight loss program.
  • Life Style: Stop or reduce smoking, Reduce alcohol intake, Deal  with Social stress at Home, work or community.

There is an entire Article which goes into details on how to change your lifestyle by dealing with each item mentioned above e.g. weight loss.

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