High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

High blood pressure also known as hypertension, is what happens when you experience an unhealthy increase in the levels of your blood pressure. The measure of your blood pressure takes into account the amount of blood passing through your blood vessels and how much resistance your blood meets while your heart is pumping.

When your arteries are narrow your resistance increases. The thinner your arteries become, the higher your blood pressure will equally become. Increased blood pressure over the long run will lead to different kinds of health issues, and that includes heart disease.

Hypertension is a very common health condition. In fact with the recent change in guidelines, it is suspected that as many as half of the adults in America will now be diagnosed with high blood pressures.

High blood pressure typically develops throughout many years. Usually, you would likely not notice any symptom, but even with the absence of symptoms, hypertension can cause serious damage to your organs such as your eyes, brains, kidney, heart and blood vessels.

Detecting the condition early is actually vital. You and your doctor can easily notice any slight changes through regular blood pressure readings. If you have any form of an increase in blood pressure readings your doctor may have to keep checking your blood pressure over a few weeks to find out if the number stays the same, increases further, or reduces back to its normal levels.

Treatment for hypertension or high blood pressure ranges from perception medications to healthy lifestyle changes. If the condition is left untreated, it may lead to some health issues like stroke and heart attack.

What are the symptoms of hypertension?

Hypertension is a very silent medical condition. Many people will not have any symptoms at all; it may take several years or even decades for hypertension to reach levels that are severe to the point where symptoms become obvious. Also, the symptoms of hypertension can be linked to different other issues.

The symptoms of severe hypertension may include Dizziness, headaches, nosebleeds, shortness of breath, chest pains, blood in the urine, flushing, and visual changes.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you must get immediate medical attention. These symptoms do not occur in everyone with hypertension, but it could be very fatal to wait for any of them to occur first.

The best way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure read as regularly as possible. Most doctors take the void pressure readings of their patients at every appointment.

If you only get to visit your doctor once yearly, discuss with your doctor about the risks of hypertension you may be facing and other readings that may be necessary for you to check your blood pressure.

Take for example, if you are aware that your family had a history of heart disease, or you have risk factors for developing heart diseases your doctor have told you to ensure your blood pressure is checked at least twice yearly. This should help both you and your doctor deal with any issue that could  possibly creep in before it gets too serious.

What causes high blood pressure?

There are two distinct types of high blood pressure, and each of both has a different cause.

Essential hypertension

Essential hypertension is also known as primary hypertension. This kind of high blood pressure is one that develops gradually over time with no cause that is easily identifiable. A lot of people deals with this type of hypertension.

It is still unclear to researcher what mechanism is responsible for for the increase or drop in a person’s body pressure levels. A combination of several factors may play a part in causing this condition. The factors include:

Genes: Some individuals have a genetic deposition to battle hypertension. This may be due to genetic abnormalities that were inherited from parents or even gene mutation.

Physical changes: If certain things in your body changes, you may start to experience some unhealthy issues throughout your body and hypertension may be one of them. For example, it is believed that changes in a person’s kidney functions that occur as a result of ageing may disturb the human body’s natural balance of fluid and salt. Such changes may cause you to experience an increase in your blood pressure levels.

Your environment: Unhealthy lifestyle choices such as a poor diet or a lack of physical activities may take their toll on a person’s body over time. Being obese or overweight can occur due to unhealthy lifestyle choices, and such amount of body fat or weight can lead to high blood pressure.

Secondary hypertension

Secondary hypertension occurs very quickly and can potentially become more severe than the cases of primary hypertension. Several conditions could cause secondary hypertension, and they include use of illegal drugs, kidney disease, congenital heart defects, side effects of medications, obstructive sleep apnea, problems with a person’s thyroid, alcohol abuse or chronic use of alcohol, certain endocrine tumours, and adrenal gland problems.

Diagnosing hypertension

Diagnosing high blood pressure is a very simple task; as easy as taking a blood pressure reading. A lot of doctor offices ensure to take blood pressure readings on every visit, and you can even request one when next you visit your doctor’s if it’s not a routine say the office.

If the level of your blood pressure is elevated, your doctor may ask that you take several readings within the next week to see if it remains the same or drops to the normal level. A high blood pressure diagnosis is hardly made after a single blood pressure reading because it is vital that your doctor sees evidence of a sustained problem.

The reason for this is that your environment can play a part in causing your blood pressure to increase, such as the anxiety and stress some people feel wherever they visit their doctor — also, the level of an individual’s blood pressure changes throughout the day.

If your doctor notices that your blood pressure level remains high, he may likely conduct some other tests to rule out underlying conditions. Some of the other tests are:

  • Ultrasound of the kidney and heart
  • Urine test
  • Test of your heart’s electrical activity with an ECG
  • Other blood tests including a cholesterol screening.

The tests above will help your doctor identify any secondary problem that may be the cause of your high blood pressure. Your doctor may also look out for any possible effect that high blood pressure may have had on your organs.

During this period, your doctor may begin treatment for your high blood pressure. The earlier treatment for hypertension is administered the lower the risk of experiencing a worse condition that could lead to lasting damage.

How to understand high blood pressure readings?

Two numbers work together to create a blood pressure reading:

The systolic pressure: this number is the first one or the one on top. What it does is to indicate the pressure in your arteries when your heart pumps out blood, or it beats.

The diastolic pressure: This is the bottom number, or better still, the second number. What it does is to read the pressure in your arteries between heartbeats.

A blood pressure reading for adults is determined by five different categories:

1. Healthy: To define a healthy blood pressure reading it has to be below 120/80 milli-metres of mercury.

2. Elevated: The number on the systolic side is between 120 and 129 mm Hg, while the diastolic number is below 80 mm Hg. Medical doctors usually don’t treat elevated blood pressure levels using medication. Instead they suggest a lifestyle change that will help to reduce the level of a person’s blood pressure

3. Stage one hypertension: if the diastolic number falls between 80 and 89 mm Hg, or the systolic number falls between 130 and 139 mm Hg then a person can be said to have stage one hypertension.

4. Stage two hypertension: If the diastolic number is exactly 90 mm Hg or higher, or the systolic number is exactly 140 mm Hg or higher we can say a person is dealing with stage two hypertension.

5. Hypertensive crisis: If the diastolic number is over 120 mm Hg, and the systolic number is above 180 mm Hg. A person whose blood pressure level is around this range requires immediate attention. Worse still, if the person encounters symptoms such as loss of breath, headaches, visual changes, and chest pain while having an increased blood pressure level, an emergency is the case. Such a person must be taken straight to the emergency room.

To take blood pressure reading, you make use of a pressure cuff. A nicely fitting pressure cuff would give you an accurate blood pressure reading while an ill-fitting pressure cuff would give you an accurate blood pressure reading.

For children and teenagers, blood pressure readings are measured differently. So if for any reason you are asked by your doctor to check your child’s blood pressure level make sure to ask for the healthy range.

Treatment options for high blood pressure levels

Several factors will determine what kind of treatment your doctor would suggest for your high blood pressure. The factors your doctor will look out for include the kind of high blood pressure you are dealing with and is responsible for your high blood pressure.

Treatment options for primary hypertension

If you have been diagnosed with primary hypertension, you might not need to resort to taking medication some simple lifestyle changes is all you would need to regulate your blood pressure level. However, in cases where lifestyle changes do not work your doctor may then prescribe the use of medications to stabilise your blood pressure.

Treatment options for secondary hypertension

If your doctor can discover an underlying issue that is causing your high blood pressure, then the doctor will focus on treating the condition that is responsible for your hypertension. Take, for example; if your high blood pressure is a side effect of a medication you have been taking, your doctor may find other medications that would help solve your problem but not have such a side effect on you.

There are cases where hypertension becomes persistence regardless of the treatment administered to tackle the underlying cause. If this is the case, your doctor may decide to prescribe some lifestyle changes and also medications that will help in normalising your blood pressure level.

The treatment plans for hypertension often evolve, which means that what may work for you at first may not be so effective later on which is why your doctor will walk hand in hand with you to refine your treatment options as time goes on.

Medications for high blood pressure

Many individuals usually have to go through the trial and error phase when it comes to blood pressure medication. The reason for this is that sometimes it is difficult to get one medication that works perfectly for you, so you will have to try several ones till you find the right combination that suits you.

Below are some of the medications that are used to treat high blood pressure.

1. Beta-blockers: What beta-blockers do is to make your heart beat slower and reduce the force. This will reduce the amount of blood that is pumped through your arteries with every beat, and that will lower your blood pressure. Another thing it does is to block certain hormones that are in your body that may increase your blood pressure.

2. Diuretics: This pill is also known as a water pill. What diuretics does is to help your kidneys remove excess water and sodium that can cause high blood pressure. As your body eliminates the sodium, the excess fluid is also passed out through your urine, and that will help to lower your blood pressure.

3. ACE inhibitors: The chemical called Angiotensin will cause your artery walls and blood vessels to tighten and become narrow. What ACE inhibitors do is to prevent your body from producing an unhealthy quantity of this chemical. This will help to reduce your blood pressure and help your blood vessels relax.

4. Angiotensin 2 receptor blockers: ARBs work to stop angiotensin from binding to receptors while the ACE inhibitors handle the task of stopping the production of excess angiotensin. The absence of the angiotensin chemical means that blood vessels will not tighten and that will help the vessels relax and also reduce blood pressure.

There are also some home remedies to help with the reduction of high blood pressure. These home remedies include a healthy diet, exercising, and lots of rest. If you know you are at risk of having high blood pressure, it will be best to reduce the amount of meat you consume and eat more plants. Also, it is advisable to reduce dietary sodium and sugary foods.