August 06 2021
Measuring the body’s blood pressure takes into account the amount of blood that passes through the blood vessels and the resistance which the blood undergoes when the heart pumps blood. Hypertension or high blood pressure occurs when blood pressure shoots up to unhealthy levels. There is an increase in the resistance in the narrow arteries. The narrower the arteries, higher will be resistance to the blood flow through it and thus higher will be the blood pressure. Long-standing increase in this pressure can lead to various health conditions such as cardiovascular disease.
Hypertension can be a long drawn process which develops over many years. This condition can be symptomatic or even asymptomatic in some individuals. Even without the manifestation of symptoms, high blood pressure can lead to irreversible damage to the blood vessels and various body organs mainly the brain, heart, eyes and the kidneys. Blood pressure should be monitored regularly so that any significant changes can be noticed as the early detection of hypertension is very decisive in its prognosis and treatment.
Causes of high blood pressure
There are mainly two types of hypertension
Primary hypertension - Also called essential hypertension, this type of hypertension gradually develops over time and there is associated cause to it. This is the most prevalent form of blood pressure. Some of the factors which may contribute to the blood pressure to increase are:
- Genes - Because of the presence of genetic abnormalities or some forms of gene mutations, some individuals may be more genetically susceptible to hypertension.
- Physical changes - High blood pressure may be associated with bodily changes which can occur throughout the body such as damage in the kidney functioning which may lead to an imbalance in the natural salts and fluids which may, in turn, cause an increase in the blood pressure.
- Environment - Environmental factors such as lack of physical activity, an imbalanced diet and poor lifestyle choices may lead to weight gain and obesity is a risk factor for hypertension.
Secondary hypertension: This type of hypertension quickly progresses and can be more harmful than primary hypertension. Some of the triggers of secondary hypertension include kidney disease, obstructive sleep apnea, congenital heart disease, thyroid imbalance, alcohol abuse, adrenal gland dysfunction, adverse effects of some medications etc.
Symptoms of hypertension
Hypertensive patients are generally asymptomatic. It may take a long time for the visible symptoms to manifest which include headache, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, flushing, dizziness, chest pain, presence of blood in the urine. If anyone of these symptoms are present, immediate medical attention is required.
Persistent high blood pressure readings will prompt the medical practitioner to conduct a few tests to rule out other underlying conditions. Some of them include urine test, cholesterol screening test, electrocardiogram and an ultrasound of the heart or kidneys which may help in identifying any secondary causes of the elevated blood pressure as well as its effects on the body organs if any.
Blood pressure readings are generally classified as the following based on the readings:
- Healthy - A normal blood pressure reading is defined as less than 120/80 mmHg.
- Elevated - Elevated blood pressure refers to when the condition when the systolic reading is between 120 and 129 mmHg and the diastolic reading is below 80 mmHg. This can be treated only with the help of lifestyle modifications and medications are not needed at this stage.
- Stage 1 hypertension - In this stage, the systolic reading is between 130 and 139 mmHg and the diastolic reading is between 80 and 89 mmHg.
- Stage 2 hypertension - In this stage, the systolic reading is 140 mmHg or more and the diastolic reading is 90 mmHg or more.
- Hypertensive crisis - This refers to the condition when the systolic blood pressure is more than 180 mmHg and the diastolic blood pressure is over 120 mmHg and the individual requires emergency medical treatment especially if there are associated symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath or headaches as this can prove to be fatal.
Treatment of primary hypertension
Lifestyle modifications are recommended to reduce the high blood pressure in case of primary hypertension. If these changes when implemented do not cause any significant changes in the blood pressure, then medications to treat high blood pressure are prescribed.
Treatment of secondary hypertension
If the underlying cause of high blood pressure is discussed, then the line of treatment will focus on eradicating the cause. But in conditions when the high blood pressure is persistent even after the treatment of the underlying cause, both lifestyle changes, as well as medications, are prescribed to reduce the blood pressure. Some of the medications which are used in the treatment of hypertension include:
- Beta-blockers - This group of medicines make the heartbeat slower and reduce the amount of blood pumped within the arteries with every beat thereby reducing the blood pressure and also inhibits the activity of hormones which can elevate the blood pressure.
- Diuretics - As increased sodium levels and accumulation of fluid in the body increase blood pressure, diuretics are a group of drugs which help the kidneys in removing excess of sodium from the body which in turn reduces the blood pressure.
- ACE inhibitors - Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme ( ACE) inhibitors prevent the body from the production of angiotensin which causes the arteries to tighten and narrow thereby enabling the blood vessels to relax and reduces blood pressure.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) - This group of drugs blocks the binding of angiotensin with its receptors which further relaxes the blood vessels and lowers the blood pressure.
- Calcium channel blockers - These medications inhibit calcium from entering the cardiac muscles of the heart which decreases the force of the heartbeat and lowers the blood pressure.
Home remedies for treating high blood pressure
Developing a healthy diet is crucial for reducing the elevated blood pressure and it is also responsible for keeping the blood pressure under control and reduces the risk of complications associated with hypertension such as heart disease, stroke and cardiac arrest. A healthy diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins like fish. Supplementing with Alvizia’s cold pressed flaxseed oil capsules also helps in lowering the blood pressure. Increasing physical activity, maintaining adequate weight, managing stress, quitting smoking, tobacco and alcohol consumption, meditation, yoga and other lifestyle changes all contribute to lowering the blood pressure.