Hypertension or high blood pressure is a serious health problem which currently affects nearly 1 billion people worldwide. According to the recent analysis by the World Health Organisation (WHO), this statistic might rise to around 1.57 billion by the year 2025.
Blood is the fluid connective tissue, carried to all parts of our body in blood vessels called arteries. The arteries play a key role in providing blood (thus oxygen and energy) to all organs of the body.
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the arteries. Around 75 million people are affected by high blood pressure in the US and more are at risk of dying from related cardiovascular disease. In the year 2017-2018, about one-third of all individuals above the age range of 20 have high blood pressure assessments and most are under antihypertensive medications.
What is Hypertension?
Abnormally high blood pressure and a combination of high psychological stress are known as Hypertension. These patients suffering from this disorder will have their blood pressure reading greater than 140 over 90 mm.
Hypertension is diagnosed by measuring blood pressure. The Systolic pressure would be the first readings viz. a pressure by which the heart pumps blood through the body, and second readings would be the Diastolic pressure, meaning a pressure at which the heart relaxes and refills the blood.
Types of Hypertension
When people talk about hypertension, they are usually referring to one of the two types, namely:
- Primary hypertension
- Secondary hypertension
Primary hypertension is also known as essential hypertension. This is the most prevalent form of hypertension and it has no identifiable cause.
Secondary hypertension is caused by an underlying disease or even medication. Thyroid dysfunction, sleep apnea and diabetes have been linked to secondary hypertension. Chemicals such as amphetamines, antidepressants and even caffeine can lead to hypertension.
Causes of Hypertension
Acute stress and unfavourable environmental factors are the main factors for increasing blood pressure in normal and healthy individuals. The increasing rate of the prevailing condition is mostly blamed on the lifestyle and dietary factors such as inactive habits, high diet sodium content from processed fatty foods, tobacco and alcohol use.
Symptoms of Hypertension
High blood pressure is itself asymptomatic, that means there is no indication or any clear symptoms. This is the reason why high blood pressure is also referred to as ‘the silent killer’ since it could cause damage to the Cardiovascular system.
High blood pressure could also create problems in certain organs. A prolonged illness may lead to complications such as arteriosclerosis, where the production of plaques narrows the blood vessels.
A systolic blood pressure readings of 180 mmHg or above and a diastolic blood pressure readings of 110 mmHg or above could indicate the signs of hypertensive crisis that requires immediate medical attention.
Diagnosis of Hypertension
The process of diagnosis is usually carried out by measuring the patient’s blood pressure using a sphygmomanometer. At least 3 different elevated readings are required to diagnose this condition. This examination along with additional tests help to identify the causes of high blood pressure and any other complications.
Additional diagnosis might include
- Kidney ultrasound imaging,
- Urine tests,
- Blood tests
- Electrocardiogram (or) ECG Test.
Treatment and Precautions
- Weight loss treatment programs like diet and exercise are recommended as high blood pressure and obesity are related to each other.
- Having a well-balanced diet including whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.
- Avoid foods that have high amounts of LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein).
- Reduce intake of sodium in the diet.
- Increase the intake of calcium and vitamin D.
Hypertension can turn quite serious if left unchecked. However, it could be easily lowered or controlled by regular exercise. Following a strict, low sodium diet supplemented with foods rich in potassium and calcium is crucial. Eat more low-fat protein sources, whole grains, plenty of fruits and vegetables.
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