High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) : Causes, Symptoms, and Management
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What is High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)?
Our narrow blood vessels or arteries tend to exert pressure against the blood flow from the heart, which is known as blood pressure. Systolic and diastolic pressures are the two types of blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure exerted on the blood flow when the heart pumps the blood and diastolic pressure is deemed as the pressure exerted during periods of rest. If the blood pressure is more than 120/80, it is regarded as high blood pressure or hypertension.
A systolic blood pressure of 120 to 129 and diastolic blood pressure of 80 is regarded as an elevated blood pressure range, which precedes stage 1 hypertension. A high diastolic blood pressure, which is beyond 120, can be life-threatening and lead to a series of health complications.
How to understand high blood pressure readings?
To understand what happens when the BP is high or the effects of hypertension, it is essential to understand the blood pressure readings.
Healthy High BP Level
120 - 129
Elevated Blood Pressure
130 - 139
80 - 89
Stage 1 Hypertension
Stage 2 Hypertension
180/120 BP is dangerous as it can be life-threatening. Some of the side effects of high blood pressure to watch out for are:
- Damage to the heart and brain
- Kidney diseases
- Arterial damage
Stages and Types of Hypertension
The two key types of hypertension are:
- Essential or primary hypertension - This is a condition in which the surge in blood pressure level is not caused by a medical condition. Mostly, lifestyle disorders, such as obesity and hypertension and unhealthy dietary habits are known to cause primary hypertension.
- Secondary hypertension - This is a condition in which high blood pressure is caused due to health conditions of the heart, kidneys, arteries or the endocrine system.
Some of the other hypertension types include:
- White Coat Hypertension - The blood pressure level stays normal at home and elevated in a healthcare setting
- Masked Hypertension - The blood pressure level stays high at home and normal in a healthcare setting
- Sustained Hypertension - The blood pressure remains high at all times
- Nocturnal Hypertension - The BP level stays high during sleep
Whether high or mild hypertension, the symptoms of high blood pressure should be watched out for.
High Blood Pressure Symptoms
High blood pressure symptoms might not be readily identifiable in all individuals. However, these can be equally concerning and even more life-threatening without an adequate diagnosis.
The signs and symptoms of hypertension may vary based on the elevated reading of systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
When the systolic blood pressure reading is elevated, you may experience symptoms, such as:
- Muscle weakness
- Loud snoring
- Tremor-like sensations
The systolic blood pressure reading of 180 is considered life-threatening.
When the diastolic pressure reading is more than 120, you may experience high diastolic blood pressure symptoms, such as:
- Severe headaches
- Facial flushing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Fatigue and confusion
Causes of Hypertension
The causes of hypertension depend on the type of hypertension.
The generic high BP causes are:
- Gender and race
- High alcohol consumption
- Sedentary lifestyle choices
- Diabetes or other metabolic syndromes
- High sodium intake
The reasons for hypertension in secondary hypertension include:
- Kidney diseases
- Obstructive sleep apnea (a problem in breathing during sleep)
- Congenital heart defects
- Thyroid and associated disorders
- Side effects of certain medications
- Chronic alcohol consumption
- Adrenal gland problems
- Certain endocrine tumours
Some of the causes of systolic hypertension (wherein the systolic blood pressure reading is elevated) are:
- Arterial stiffness
- Heart valve diseases
Some of the causes of diastolic hypertension include:
- High-sodium diet
- Inadequate physical activity
- Stress and anxiety
- Medications (NSAIDs, antidepressants, oral contraceptive pills)
Does smoking increase blood pressure - while this remains debatable, smoking may cause a host of other health complications and should be avoided or minimised.
Understanding what causes high blood pressure and assessing your risk factors can help you seek on time hypertension diagnosis.
Who is at Risk of High Blood Pressure?
Some of the key risk factors of hypertension are:
- Too much sodium and too little potassium in your diet
- Alcohol and other substance abuse
Complications of Hypertension and Its Impacts on the Body if Left Untreated
Hypertension when left untreated for long can lead to several health hazards.
Some of the key complications of hypertension are:
- Damaged arteries
- Damaged heart, brain and kidneys
Hypertension diagnosis is crucial to prevent the repercussions of elevated blood pressure levels. Opting for periodic BP screenings can help your healthcare provider gauge your potential risks and extent of hypertension. Since cholesterol levels play a catalytic role in controlling your blood pressure levels, your healthcare provider might also suggest a cholesterol screening or lipid profile test. Periodic kidney and heart ultrasounds and ECGs are also recommended to diagnose hypertension on time.
Hypertension Management & Treatment
The type and success of hypertension treatment depend on the hypertension type. Since primary hypertension is considered mild hypertension, this can be managed well by making healthier lifestyle choices and medications can help keep the BP levels in check. However, the cure for hypertension in the case of secondary hypertension necessitates medical treatments.
Medical management of hypertension in the case of primary hypertension includes the administration of BP-reducing medications. Whereas Medical management of hypertension in the case of secondary hypertension requires the administration of advanced medications, such as:
- ACE inhibitors
- Calcium channel blockers
- Alpha-2 Agonists
The response to can high blood pressure be cured depends on the type, stage, causes and symptoms of hypertension.
Home remedies and lifestyle strategies
While medical treatments can help manage high BP, home remedies and lifestyle changes play crucial roles. Diet, physical activity, and other factors can help you keep your BP level optimal.
A high BP diet chart usually involves citrus fruits, fatty fish, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, legumes, berries, amaranthus, olive oil, carrots, tomatoes, eggs, broccolis, yoghourt, herbs, potatoes, kiwi fruit, lean meats, etc. If you are wondering, does tea increase blood pressure, there is yet to be any solid evidence. Does coffee raise blood pressure or lower it - the response is, caffeine is known to raise the BP levels.
Opting for hypertension prevention measures can also help you manage BP naturally at home.
- Eat a balanced diet
- Manage your body weight as per your BMI
- Stay physically active
- Limit smoking and alcohol consumption
- Get adequate sleep
Wondering what to do when BP is high? Opt for regular BP screenings, watch out signs and symptoms of hypertension and seek immediate medical attention if the BP reading goes beyond 180/120.
Immediate treatments for high blood pressure at home include:
- Taking deep breaths to stabilise your heart rhythm
- Opting for a cold shower to manage flushing symptoms
- Eating dark chocolates
Read More: 9 Morning Drinks That Bring Down Blood Pressure Naturally
A Note From HealthcareOnTime
While you can opt for self-checks of BP levels at home, undergoing periodic, and convenient in-clinic BP screenings can also help keep a tab on your BP levels. These screening insights can help you avoid hypertension-led complications.
Choose HealthcareOnTime to get at-home lab tests for cardiovascular health, kidney functioning and gauging endocrine system functionalities to help reduce the risk of hypertension.
Disclaimer: The information listed here is strictly for educational purposes and is not intended to offer personal medical advice. Do consult your physician for any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. It's not advised to disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information listed here. The Nutrition Source does not recommend or endorse any products