Hypertension (High Blood Pressure): Everything You Should Know
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a health condition where the blood exerts more pressure, higher than normal, on the walls of arteries. In India, this condition is common among adults and teenagers. Almost 30% of Indian adults are diagnosed with high blood pressure or hypertension. However, the majority of them are unaware that they have this condition.
One of the leading causes of hypertension is the excessive intake of salt and rich food in the regular dietary course. Besides cardiovascular diseases, extreme hypertension can also lead to other serious conditions like damage to the brain, heart and even eyes. Common symptoms of hypertension are excessive sweating and dizziness.
What is Hypertension?
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a medical condition where a body's blood exerts greater pressure on the walls of arteries. Due to higher pressure, the walls of the arteries expand beyond their normal limits. This can cause serious issues like heart attack and stroke.
Normally, blood pressure is measured in two ways:
- Systolic Pressure
Systolic blood pressure is the pressure exerted by the blood flow on the walls of arteries during the heartbeat. Normal systolic blood pressure is 120mm of Hg.
- Diastolic Pressure
Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure of the blood vessels exerted by the blood flow on the walls of arteries during the gap between two heartbeats. The normal range of diastolic blood pressure is 80 mm of Hg.
In short, a person's normal blood pressure reading should not exceed 120/80 mm of Hg. If you're reading exceeds this range, you should visit your doctor.
Symptoms of Hypertension
Hypertension can be detected through some of the visible symptoms like
- Occasional fainting
- Increased heart palpitations
- Frequent headaches
- Excessive sweating
- Nose bleeding
Stages of Hypertension
Hypertension is categorized into 4 stages:
- Prehypertension: Blood pressure above 129/80
- Hypertension Stage I: Blood pressure range from 130/80 to 140/89
- Hypertension Stage II: Blood pressure range from 140/90 to 180/120
- Hypertension Stage III: Blood pressure above 180/120
What are the Reasons Behind Hypertension?
Hypertension is a common health condition and several reasons are responsible for increased blood pressure. Some of the risk factors include a family history of the disease, whereas most causes surround unhealthy and stressful lifestyles.
- Family History: Though hypertension is not a contagious medical emergency, the history of other family members indicates the possibility of hypertension among others as well.
- Age Matters: If you are a young adult of 18 years, it is a good time to start a healthy practice of regular checkups. People with high-risk factors tend to show possibilities from an early age. By age 40, you should regularly visit your doctors and follow their instructions properly.
Other reasons that lead to hypertension are defined as modifiable factors:
- Rich Diet: Indian regular diet is oily and rich in spices. Moreover, daily salt intake is also a reason for hypertension. Obesity is another leading factor.
- Regular Consumption of Alcohol: The growing tendency of alcohol intake among the masses can lead to mass hypertension.
- Excessive Smoking: Smoking can increase blood pressure.
- Lack of Exercise: A sedentary lifestyle and lack of regular exercise can increase the possibility of hypertension.
Other health issues like hormonal changes, kidney problems, pregnancy and apnea also cause hypertension.
Effects of Hypertension On The Body
Hypertension causes severe blood pressure in the arteries and restricts the normal functions of other organs in the body. The major effects of hypertension are:
- Heart failure
- Coronary artery disease
- Enlargement of left heart
- Kidney failure
- Scar in kidney/ Glomerulosclerosis
- Cerebral stroke
- Transient ischemic attack
- Mild cognitive impairment
- Nerve failure
- Damage in the artery
- Narrowed artery
Diagnosis and Medication For Hypertension
If you experience these symptoms, immediately rush to a nearby hospital. Your doctor will start the medication accordingly. The treatment of hypertension will be guided by a physician after they inspect the quality of your lifestyle, eating habits, exercise routine, etc.
Blood pressure (BP) is measured through a blood pressure monitor called a sphygmomanometer. Blood and urine tests may be suggested to check for other conditions that could be worsening your BP, such as high cholesterol and high blood sugar. Thyroid function tests and liver function tests (LFT) may also be suggested to diagnose any underlying causes of hypertension. Electrocardiogram or echocardiogram may be suggested by your doctor.
Popular methods of treatment may include:
- ACE inhibitors
- Calcium channel blockers
- Combined alpha and beta blockers
- Alpha-II receptor agonists
- Central receptor agonists
Precautionary Measures of Hypertension
You can prevent hypertension by making some changes in your lifestyle. Such changes include:
- Maintain a balanced diet
- Exercise regularly
- Cut down on alcohol and smoking
- You must do a blood pressure screening every year.
How often you should go for screening depends on your age and overall health. If you are above 18, you must do a screening at least once in two years. If you are above 40 or between 18-39 with a higher risk of high blood pressure, then you must check your blood pressure every year.
It is more important to have an awareness of hypertension and other heart-related diseases. You must check your blood pressure regularly from the age of 18 years and above. Stress in professional and academic fields also results in higher blood pressure. So it is important to make necessary changes to your lifestyle to avoid hypertension.
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