What is hypertension?
What is hypertension? Hypertension is a condition wherein the blood pressure in the body’s arteries is persistently high. It affects between 20 and 40 percent of US adults. People commonly refer to hypertension as high blood pressure (HBP).
In both men and women, the normal blood pressure range when physically inactive is 100-120 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) systolic and 60-80 mmHg diastolic. Usually, a blood pressure reading of 120/80 mmHg is considered ideal.
So, what is considered high blood pressure? A resting blood pressure of 130-139 mmHg systolic or 80-89 diastolic. This is stage 1 hypertension, according to the American Heart Association. A resting blood pressure exceeding 140 systolic or 90 diastolic is considered stage 2 hypertension. Readings ranging at levels of 180/120 mmHg or higher warrant immediate medical attention.
What causes high blood pressure?
There are two types of high blood pressure, each of which has numerous possible causes. Primary hypertension (essential hypertension) is the most common of the two types of hypertension. It develops over time and has no single identifiable cause, although several risk factors have been linked to the condition. Secondary hypertension tends to occur rapidly and has a specific cause.
Essential hypertension may develop due to a combination of factors such as tobacco smoking, long-term stress, and a lack of physical activity. It may also develop as a result of vitamin/mineral deficiencies and/or eating a diet high in salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Other risk factors and potential high blood pressure causes include genetics, advancing age, and gender, as well as ethnicity.
Secondary hypertension can result from taking certain medications, using illegal drugs, and consuming too much alcohol. Additionally, a number of medical problems can cause secondary hypertension, including kidney disease, congenital heart defects and diabetes, and thyroid dysfunction. Adrenal gland issues, endocrine tumors, and sleep apnea are other secondary hypertension causes.
Why is high blood pressure bad?
High blood pressure is bad because it damages vital organs and structures in the body, making them work harder and less efficiently. In some individuals, it causes health problems that lead to physical disability and death. What is hypertension? It is a serious cardiovascular disease that can cause life-threatening complications, especially when it goes untreated or isn’t treated effectively.
The consequences of untreated high blood pressure are wide ranging. They include heart diseases like coronary artery disease, left ventricular hypertrophy (enlarged left heart), and heart failure, and brain complications such as strokes, mini-strokes, and dementia. Hypertension can also affect the kidneys, damaging kidney arteries and blood vessels and causing several types of kidney disease.
In addition to the above effects of high blood pressure on the body, hypertension can damage the eyes, cause osteoporosis, and impair sexual function. Sexual dysfunction can occur in both men and women from atherosclerosis. Eye damage generally occurs in the form of retinopathy, optic neuropathy, or choroidopathy. Bone loss can occur due to excess elimination of calcium through the urine.
What are the high blood pressure symptoms?
Most times, high blood pressure does not cause hypertension symptoms. That is why it is commonly referred to as a “silent killer.” Many people live with the condition for years without feeling unwell or noticing any high blood pressure signs. When symptoms do occur, it is usually due to an extreme and sudden rise in blood pressure. This is a medical emergency known as a hypertensive crisis.
The definition of a hypertensive crisis is a blood pressure reading over 180 mmHg systolic pressure and/or 120 mmHg diastolic pressure. When systolic blood pressure exceeds 180 and/or diastolic blood pressure exceeds 120 and there are high blood pressure symptoms indicating organ damage, the diagnosis is a hypertensive emergency (aka malignant hypertension).
Symptoms of hypertension include chest pain, shortness of breath, and severe anxiety. There may also be nosebleeds, vision changes, and headaches. What are the symptoms of high blood pressure in a woman? They’re the same as high blood pressure symptoms in men. If preeclampsia occurs, there may be symptoms of high blood pressure in pregnancy like abdominal pain and extremity swelling.
How do you check for high blood pressure?
One can check for high blood pressure at a doctor’s office or at a pharmacy. It is also possible to learn how to check blood pressure without equipment using just the fingertips or with a blood pressure monitor at home. As a matter of fact, learning how to measure blood pressure at home with a blood pressure machine or without a bp monitor and blood pressure cuff is relatively simple.
What is hypertension? A condition that should be monitored. For those who want to know how to check blood pressure manually without equipment, learning the finger method can be helpful. It involves counting with the index finger and third finger over the wrist, neck, or other parts of the body to determine pulse rate. This can give an indication of systolic blood pressure.
For more accurate blood pressure readings, one can buy a blood pressure monitor. There are two types of BP monitors: manual and digital. Manual mercury and aneroid sphygmomanometers use an inflatable cuff to measure blood pressure and display the reading on a dial gauge. Digital monitors show the reading as digital numbers on a screen and may or may not use an arm cuff.
How do you lower blood pressure and treat hypertension?
Making lifestyle changes is the standard option for the treatment of hypertension. The goal, of course, is to lower blood pressure to safe/normal levels and reduce the risk of disease and complications. When blood pressure is very high and/or lifestyle changes fail to decrease blood pressure levels, then doctors prescribe medications for the management and treatment of high blood pressure.
Lifestyle modifications typically include reducing stress and eating a low-sodium diet that incorporates foods rich in nutrients like potassium. Experts recommend the DASH diet to lower blood pressure. They also recommend avoiding caffeine and giving up smoking, while getting more exercise. Studies show that aerobic exercise and resistance training can be beneficial with hypertension.
Medications to treat high blood pressure include antihypertensive drugs such as thiazide diuretics, ACE inhibitors, and calcium channel blockers. Doctors also commonly prescribe renin inhibitors, beta blockers, and angiotensin II receptor blockers for high blood pressure treatment. Alpha blockers, vasodilators, and aldosterone antagonists are other useful hypertension medications.
How do you prevent high blood pressure?
Hypertension prevention is a lot like high blood pressure management – manage stress, don’t smoke, exercise regularly, eat healthily, etc. Stay away from foods to avoid with high blood pressure, particularly frozen meals, packaged/processed meats, pastries, candy, canned and bottled tomato products, and alcohol. Follow a high blood pressure diet that works for hypertension.
What foods are good for high blood pressure? Leafy greens, oatmeal, and beets, berries, garlic, grilled chicken breasts, and fish like salmon and tuna, among others. For people researching “What is hypertension” who consume alcohol, limiting drinks to two per day for men and one for women can help with the prevention of hypertension. (One drink equals 4 oz. of wine or 12 oz. of beer.)
In regard to exercise, just 30 minutes daily of moderate activity can provide hypertension prevention benefits. Reduced stress is one such benefit. Exercises that are good for the prevention of high blood pressure include walking, jogging, and cycling or bicycling, as well as tai chi, Pilates, and yoga. Resistance exercises such as weightlifting and bodyweight training are also beneficial.
What about high blood pressure home remedies and supplements?
Apart from exercising, eating foods that lower blood pressure, and making lifestyle changes, there are many natural remedies for hypertension. These may help to prevent and treat the condition in people with high BP numbers, maintaining and restoring normal blood pressure. Remedies are available from stores in the form of herbs, spices, and teas, etc., as well as high blood pressure supplements.
Hibiscus, for example, is said to act as a diuretic and decrease pressure on the artery walls, while cat’s claw lowers blood pressure by dilating blood vessels. Mistletoe extract may decrease pressure by breaking down arterial buildup. Other hypertension remedies and supplements include hawthorn, ginger-cardamom, and coenzyme Q10, magnesium, potassium, arjuna, and nattokinase.
There are options for high blood pressure treatment at home. However, individuals with high systolic and diastolic blood pressure should always consult a doctor before trying new natural remedies, as they aren’t safe for everyone. In particular, it’s important to be careful with hypertension remedies when taking medications (prescription or OTC) and if there is high blood pressure during pregnancy.
What else should you know about high blood pressure?
Sometimes, blood pressure is higher than normal but does not fall into the high blood pressure range. In the past, this was known as prehypertension, which translated as 120-139 systolic or 80-89 diastolic on a blood pressure chart. New guidelines eliminate this category. People with these readings today are said to have elevated blood pressure (120-129 and less than 80) or stage 1 hypertension.
Elevated BP is dangerous because it leads to hypertension and high blood pressure complications. In fact, damage begins inside the body shortly after elevation. Furthermore, there usually aren’t any signs of high blood pressure, and the risks associated with the condition increase over time. For these reasons, it is wise to avoid common hypertension causes and monitor blood pressure.
Blood pressure can increase due to age, illness, activity levels, medication usage, etc. Therefore, it is necessary to measure it on different days and at different times. A single blood pressure reading does not indicate that a person has hypertension. Doctors normally make a high blood pressure diagnosis after three or more readings. Other tests may be required to diagnose the problem.
Can children have high blood pressure?
Yes, children of all ages can develop high blood pressure. The hypertension definition is different with kids, though. What is hypertension in kids? It’s the same affliction that affects adults. But what professionals consider ideal blood pressure in children differs from normal blood pressure for women and men. Moreover, it can be trickier to treat high blood pressure in children.
What is considered high blood pressure for a child? There isn’t a single target blood pressure reading. Doctors generally use children’s blood pressure chart tables based on age, gender, and height to identify HBP. What causes hypertension in a child? It depends on the child. Obesity is a risk factor. In younger kids, the cause is often an underlying medical condition, such as kidney disease.
Regardless of the diseases that cause high blood pressure in children, hypertension in kids can bring about serious health problems. Thus, experts recommend that children have their blood pressure checked at least once yearly starting at age three. In children with low birth weight and conditions that increase the risk of high blood pressure, blood pressure monitoring should begin sooner.