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Hypertension

What is hypertension:

High blood pressure or hypertension is a common condition in which the continuous pressure of the blood against the artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease. Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure. You can have high blood pressure for years without any symptoms. Damage to your blood vessels will lead to plaque build-up and lead to further complications. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of major organ damage such as kidney failure, heart attack and stroke.

Source: Hamilton Cardiology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blood pressure:

Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers. The systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body. The diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels. They are both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).

As a general guide:

  • high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher
  • ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
  • low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower

A blood pressure reading between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg could mean you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure if you don’t take steps to keep your blood pressure under control.

Symptoms of hypertension:

Source : HX Benefit

 

Causes of hypertension:

  1. Genetics:The genetic tendency to high blood pressure is one of the major causes. High blood pressure may be acquired through parents’ genes as well. This is why children are often seen to have high blood pressure.
  2. Salt intake:Excess of salt in your diet increases the possibility of high blood pressure. It mainly targets the arteries, heart and brain and kidney function. This often results in the slowing of kidney functions and pressurizing artery walls.
  3. Lack of exercise:People suffering from obesity are usually subjected to high blood pressure. Lack of exercise and being overweight causes the hardening of artery walls which increases the blood
  4. Stress:Both stress and anxiety can cause high blood pressure, as they release a hormone, which decreases the diameter of the blood vessel and increases the heart rate.
  5. Smoking and drinking:Studies have shown that more than 1 litre of alcohol in a day can boost up the blood pressure levels. Also, the nicotine present in cigarettes hardens the artery walls, increases the heart rate  and may promote blood clots.

 

Complications of hypertension:

Source: Hypertension

Lifestyle management:

Lifestyle changes can help you control and prevent high blood pressure, even if you’re taking blood pressure medication. Here’s what you can do:

 

  • Eat healthy food.Eat a healthy diet. Try the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which emphasizes fruits vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish and low-fat dairy foods. Get plenty of potassium (eg. bananas, oranges) which can help prevent and control high blood pressure. Eat less saturated fat and trans-fat.
  • Decrease the salt in your diet.A lower sodium level — 1,500 milligrams (mg) a day — is appropriate for people 51 years of age or older, and individuals of any age who are black or who have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

Otherwise healthy people can aim for 2,300 mg a day or less. While you can reduce the amount of salt you eat by putting down the saltshaker, you generally should also pay attention to the amount of salt that’s in the processed food you eat, such as canned soups or frozen dinners.

  • Maintain a healthy weight.Keeping a healthy weight, or losing weight if you’re overweight or obese, can help you control your high blood pressure and lower your risk of related health problems. If you are overweight, losing even 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms) can lower your blood pressure.
  • Increase physical activity.Regular physical activity can help lower your blood pressure, manage stress, reduce your risk of several health problems and keep your weight under control.

For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends that you get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination or moderate and vigorous activity. Aim to do muscle-strengthening exercises at least two days a week.

  • Limit alcohol.Even if you’re healthy, alcohol can raise your blood pressure. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than 65, and up to two drinks a day for men aged 65 and younger.
  • Don’t smoke.Tobacco injures blood vessel walls and speeds up the process of hardening of the arteries. If you smoke, ask your doctor or pharmacist to help you quit.
  • Manage stress.Reduce stress as much as possible. Practice healthy coping techniques, such as muscle relaxation, deep breathing or meditation. Getting regular physical activity and plenty of sleep can help, too.
  • Monitor your blood pressure at home.Home blood pressure monitoring can help you keep closer tabs on your blood pressure, show if medication is working, and even alert you and your doctor to potential complications. Home blood pressure monitoring isn’t a substitute for visits to your doctor, and home blood pressure monitors may have some limitations. Even if you get normal readings, don’t stop or change your medications or alter your diet without talking to your doctor first.

If your blood pressure is under control, you may be able to make fewer visits to your doctor if you monitor your blood pressure at home.

  • Practice relaxation or slow, deep breathing.Practice taking deep, slow breaths to help relax. There are some devices available that promote slow, deep breathing. However, it’s questionable whether these devices have a significant effect on lowering your blood pressure.
  • Control blood pressure during pregnancy.If you’re a woman with high blood pressure, discuss with your doctor how to control your blood pressure during pregnancy.

Sources:

  1. Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com
  2. Hamilton Cardiology https://www.hcahamilton.com
  3. NHS http://www.nhs.uk
  4. Health information https://www.hxbenefit.com
  5. Hypertension http://www.whyhypertension.com
  6. MayoClinic http://www.mayoclinic.org