Hypertension is the medical terminology for high blood pressure. Blood flows through the arteries due to force that is exerted every time the heart beats to pump blood to various organs of your body. The force with which blood flows exerts pressure on the walls of the arteries. The more the pressure, the harder your heart has to work to pump blood.
Hypertension is one of the most common chronic conditions that can lead to several other health problems in the presence of contributing factors like genetics, Kidney disease, Diabetes, Thyroid problems, Sleep disorders, obesity or high cholesterol levels. These factors further increase the resistance of blood flow through the arteries and cause high BP.
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Types of Hypertension
Primary hypertension: High blood pressure that has no identifiable cause.
Secondary hypertension: High blood pressure resulting from an underlying condition like kidney disease, diabetes, blocking of arteries, irrational use of medicines like pain killers, supplements, thyroid problems, heavy alcohol intake and sleep disorders.
Malignant hypertension: A sudden, rapid increase in high blood pressure is called malignant hypertension.
Resistant hypertension: This type of hypertension is unaffected by a single group of medicines and lifestyle changes.
Isolated systolic hypertension: In this type, the arteries become stiff and causes a rise in systolic blood pressure but the diastolic blood pressure remains normal.
There are several known factors that increase the risk of hypertension
- Age: On an average, people above 40 years of age have a higher risk of developing hypertension
- Family history:If you have a family member with high blood pressure, you’re also likely to suffer
- Stress:Several studies have linked stress with high blood pressure. Hormones released by the body under stress affect the blood vessels and blood flow, causing a temporary rise in BP
- High salt intake:Salt contains sodium that causes fluid retention in the body, leading to increased blood pressure.
- Smoking:Smoking causes narrowing of the arteries, thereby increasing the pressure exerted by blood flowing through them
- Heavy alcohol intake:Heavy drinking generally has a known bad effect on crucial organs like liver, kidneys and the heart. It also affects the blood pressure.
- Chronic diseases: While hypertension is a risk factor for chronic diseases like heart disease and kidney disease, chronic diseases can also lead to hypertension.
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The only way to know whether you have high blood pressure is to get it measured. The physician will measure your blood pressure with an instrument called sphygmomanometer. The normal blood pressure reading is 120/80 mm Hg.
Here are a few signs that are closely associated with hypertension and are seen in quite a few people. If you have any of these signs, it is a good signal for you to go to a doctor and get your BP checked.
- Vision problem
- Increased heart rate
Hypertension can be treated with medicines and lifestyle changes.
Medication: Drugs used for treating hypertension are called anti-hypertensive drugs. Anti-hypertensive drugs are needed lifelong because hypertension can only be controlled and not cured. However, this is true only in case of essential hypertension or primary hypertension’.
Lifestyle changes: These changes also apply if you want to prevent hypertension. Lifestyle changes include –
- Regular exercise
- Maintaining healthy weight
- Reducing salt intake
- Lowering fat intake
- Managing stress