High blood pressure is a long-term medical condition in which the heart starts pumping blood through arteries with greater force. Blood pressure is the pressure applied to the walls of arteries by blood. High blood pressure is also referred to as hypertension.
The stress of high blood pressure on arteries causes blockage of arteries by fatty plaques which can result in different disease conditions like heart attack, coronary artery disease, and stroke. High blood cholesterol and smoking speed up this process.
Blood pressure is measured by the amount of blood that your heart pumps and the resistance faced by blood while passing through the arteries. If your arteries are narrowed due to blockage, blood pressure will be higher.
Most high blood pressure patients don’t show any symptoms for several years. Even with no symptoms and signs, high blood pressure continues to damage blood vessels and your heart. If you do not control your blood pressure, it can be a serious risk for your health.
Hypertension nearly affects every person and develops slowly over a period of many years. High blood pressure can be detected easily and everyone should get it checked at least once a year.
Hypertension or high blood pressure generally show no sign or symptoms in patients, even when blood pressure readings are very high. Some people show symptoms when high blood pressure is very severe. These include headaches, light-headedness, the buzzing of the ear, altered vision or blurring, and vertigo.
Hypertension or high blood pressure is usually high when you are doing any physical work or exercise. But if blood pressure is high when you are resting then it is a risk for your health. It means that your heart is overworking and putting extra stress on your arteries.
Blood pressure is measured by two pressures i.e., systolic and diastolic. Systolic can be described as the highest pressure on arteries when the heartbeats. Its normal range is 110 mmHg to 130mmHg. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure against arteries walls when the heart relaxes. Its normal range is 70mmHg to 80mmHg. A sphygmomanometer is an instrument generally used to measure blood pressure. It tells both systolic and diastolic pressures.
How It Works
An inflatable bag is connected to a sphygmomanometer, which is wrapped around the arm. The purpose of the airbag is to stop circulation in arteries when air is pumped into it. Then pressure is slowly released, as it reaches the systolic pressure level, it produces a ‘thumping’ sound. When the blood pressure drops to diastolic pressure, the sound is not heard. Two to three recordings of blood pressure should be taken because people become nervous or tense while their blood pressure is measured. The accuracy of electronic measuring and recording of both systolic and diastolic pressure is replacing manual and auditory blood pressure recording.
Many risk factors contribute to hypertension or high blood pressure, we’ll start with these factors in this article.
- High Stress
- Lack of Exercise
- Sodium-Potassium Balance
- Chronic Diseases
1. High Stress
A higher level of stress also leads to hypertension. Elevated stress level is often accompanied by unhealthy lifestyles like consumption of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs, which result in high blood pressure.
As the bodyweight increases, it requires the heart to do more work to pump blood across all tissue throughout the body. This results in more pressure being applied to arteries walls which lead to high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is likely to develop at an older age as the arteries’ walls become thick in old people. In men, high blood pressure is common until 60 years of age whereas in women it is likely to develop after 65 years.
High blood pressure is also related to your family history, it usually runs through certain families due to genetic factors.
5. Lack of Exercise
People who do not exercise regularly tend to have high blood pressure. Lack of exercise results in blockage of arteries by fat deposits, which result in high blood pressure exerted by the heart on the artery wall. Lack of exercise also results in obesity and overweight problems.
The ethnicity of a person has also been linked with hypertension in many studies. People of African-origin are likely to develop hypertension earlier than other people. Serious health complications like heart attack, stroke, aneurysms are likely to develop in these people.
Men are more likely to have the problem of high blood pressure than women.
Smoking causes severe damage to the walls of arteries. This results in the thickening of arteries, which results in high blood pressure in smokers. Blood pressure immediately increases in person while smoking. Passive smoking also contributes to high blood pressure.
9. Sodium-Potassium Balance
If you take a high level of sodium in the form of salt in your diet, your blood pressure is likely to be higher. Potassium is responsible for maintaining the balance of sodium in your cells. A lower level of potassium will disturb the sodium-potassium balance, thus increasing the blood pressure in a person.
10. Chronic Diseases
Different diseases contribute to high blood pressure. Diabetes Mellitus, kidney failure, and sleep disorders result in high blood pressure.
Pregnant women are likely to have a higher level of blood pressure.
Diseases Caused By High Blood Pressure
- Heart Failure
- Kidney problems
- Vision Problem
- Metabolic Disorders
- Memory Issues
Constant high blood pressure on the walls of arteries can damage them, thus stopping the blood supply to tissues and organs of the body. It can result in damage to tissues and the failure of different organs.
The following are a complication that arises from long term hypertension:
1. Heart Failure
The heart has to work harder to pump blood if there high blood pressure in the walls of the arteries. This results in hypertrophy (thickening) of the ventriculus of the heart. Due to increased thickness, it becomes difficult for the heart to pump blood throughout the body. This leads to heart failure in your body.
Due to continuous high blood pressure walls of arteries become weak. This results in the bulging of arteries called an aneurysm. It becomes a life-threatening condition when an aneurysm ruptures.
3. Kidney problems
Hypertension causes narrowing of blood vessels in the kidneys, which prevents your kidney to function properly. Kindney failure leads to poor filtration of fluid in your body.
4. Vision Problem
Due to high blood pressure, vessels in the eyes become torn, thickened, and narrowed, resulting in vision loss in a patient.
A stroke causing interruption of blood going towards the brain lead to vascular dementia. This happens because of the narrowing of blood vessels due to high blood pressure passing through them.
6. Metabolic Disorders
High blood pressure leads to a lot of metabolic problems. It results in a high amount of triglycerides, increased waist, high insulin levels, and low ‘good’ cholesterol in the body. These conditions lead to different diseases like diabetes and stroke.
7. Memory Issues
Persistent high blood pressure affects the ability to understand, learn, or remember things. Problem with memory is also seen in people with uncontrollable high blood pressure.
Management of High Blood Pressure
- Reducing Stress
- Daily Exercise
- Reduce Salt Intake in the Diet
- Reducing Alcohol Consumption
- Eating Fruits and Vegetables
High blood pressure can be managed by making adjustments in lifestyle and taking precautions. These include:
1. Reducing Stress
By controlling or managing stress is important for health. Different techniques like yoga, taking long walks, warm baths, avoiding overworking, and medication can help reducing stress levels.
People often start using alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and junk food to cope with stress. These things contribute to high blood pressure. Stress-related smoking is also very dangerous for health. Stress should be managed by medical counseling rather than with drugs and smoking.
2. Daily Exercise
Regular physical exercise is key in managing and avoiding high blood pressure. Exercise helps burn excess calories which are obtained by overeating. A normal guideline for hypertension patients is 150 minutes of moderate exercise daily.
Walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming are an example of exercises that can be done on daily basis. Every person must at least exercise five days a week. Physical exercise is also a great tool to avoid stress.
3. Reduce Salt Intake in the Diet
You can avoid high blood pressure by consuming a healthy diet. People consume a high level of salt in different countries ranging from 9 to 12 grams per day. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each person should consume under 5 grams of salt each day to avoid hypertension issues.
Lower salt intake is beneficial in avoiding high blood pressure.
4. Reducing Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption increases the chances of high blood pressure. Alcohol consumption should be kept to a minimum by hypertension patients. According to The American Heart Association (AHA), two drinks for men and one for women is the maximum number of drinks recommended.
5. Eating Fruits and Vegetables
People who suffer from hypertension should consume very little fat. They should also consume less quantity of fish oil and olive oil, which are considered less dangerous but add to total fat intake.
Healthy fruits and vegetables should be consumed. Whole grains, beans, nuts, high fiber foods, fish containing omega-3, olive oil, and poultry meat should be part of everyday diet.
High body weight contributes to hypertension as the heart has to work more to supply blood to all parts of the body. A balanced diet with low calories is important to keep your body weight according to the required body mass index.
Different medications are recommended to treat hypertension by doctors. Patients are also recommended a combination of two drugs in later stages. Medication can include different diuretics, calcium channel blockers, central agonists, vasodilators, and angiotensin receptor blockers. The choice of medication depends upon the medical conditions of the patient.
High blood pressure or hypertension is a common problem found in many people across the world. It usually develops in older people due to the accumulation of fat cells inside their artery walls. As a result, the heart has to do more work to pump blood through arteries which causes different conditions like stroke, kidney failure, dementia, heart attack, and aneurysms. There are many factors that contribute to high blood pressure in a person. These include a lack of daily exercise, high stress, alcohol consumption, smoking, and high salt intake. High consumption of animal fats, junk foods, and carbonated drinks also promote hypertension. High blood pressure can be kept under control by making certain lifestyle changes. By taking regular exercise, eating more vegetables and fruits, avoid smoking, and reducing consumption of alcohol can slow down the development of hypertension. An important factor linked with high blood pressure is stress, which should be managed through medical help and by engaging in healthy activities.
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