Blood pressure is the force with which blood flows along the arteries, when being pumped from the heart. The heart transports blood to the rest of the body through the help of the arteries. Clogging of the arteries causes the heart to work harder to push the blood through narrower tubes, in order to supply the necessary amounts of blood to the body. The extra work done by the heart causes strain and, as a result, may cause a heart attack or stroke. Hypertension occurs when the blood pressure remains at an elevated state in a continued basis. This can be extremely detrimental to both the heart and also the kidneys. Untreated high blood pressure is one of the primary causes of death among people world over.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
Hypertension is referred to as the “silent killer”. This is because there are remarkably few symptoms associated with the disease that is overtly observable. Most individuals will not detect high blood pressure until they have a heart attack or stroke. However, markedly elevated blood pressure levels may provide some symptoms. These include headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath and chest pain. Frequent pressure monitoring is required to detect high blood pressure levels in order to alleviate the risk of hypertension.
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). The readings consist of two numbers. These are the systolic and diastolic numbers. The number on top is the systolic number. This is the number read when the heart is beating. The number at the bottom is the diastolic number. This is the number read between heart beats. Ideally a blood pressure reading below 120 over 80 (120/80) indicates good health. This lessens the risk of heart disease and stroke. A reading from 120/80 to 140/90 indicates a tendency for high blood pressure. This requires medical intervention to bring down the blood pressure to acceptable levels.
Effects of High Blood Pressure
There are other repercussions of high blood pressure, in addition to the increased risk of a heart attack or stroke. For example, hypertension causes blood vessels in the eyes to burst or bleed. This can result in vision impairment. Hypertension also causes the hardening of the arteries in the heart, brain and kidneys. This causes the heart and kidneys to work overtime. The narrowing and thickening of the blood vessels in the kidneys causes it to filter less fluid. This causes a waste build-up in the blood. Over time, the kidneys may fail to function.
Ways to Lower Hypertension
Certain factors contribute to hypertension. For example, an unhealthy lifestyle increases the risk of hypertension. As salt is one of the main components that raise blood pressure, eating a diet with less salt is recommended. Eating healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains etc and avoiding foods high in Transfats and saturated fats helps avoid clogging of arteries and keeping blood pressure levels even. Obesity is another cause of hypertension. Eating low-calorie foods and exercising as often as possible is the key to a healthy life. Alcohol and smoking are also major contributors to high blood pressure, heart attack and other diseases. Reducing alcohol intake and stopping smoking can significantly lowers the risk of hypertension.
Medications for Hypertension
Sometimes, lifestyle changes along cannot help in lowering high blood pressure. In these instances, doctors may prescribe medications to lower blood pressure. Medications should be taken as per strict medical advice and dosage adjustments or discontinuation should be done only as per a doctor’s prescriptions. Medication for hypertension belongs to various groups. These are ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, calcium channel blockers and thiazide diuretics. A doctor will prescribe the most suitable medication for the patient depending on the severity of the condition and other factors.
Monitoring Blood Pressure Regularly
Individuals at risk of elevated blood pressure levels must ensure blood pressure is monitored on a daily basis. Therefore, they will be benefited by purchasing a home blood pressure monitor. This saves time waiting at the doctor’s office for a check-up. As you need to have the right monitor to obtain an accurate reading, a doctor may offer advice on the device to be purchased. In addition, all users should ensure their blood pressure monitor is clinically validated.
Hypertension is a fatal disease that can be avoided with early detection, lifestyle changes and medication. With regular monitoring, hypertension can be detected to avoid any complications.