Your heart beats about 60-80 times in a minute when you are resting, it takes a particular amount of pressure to push the blood from the heart through all the vessels in the body when this pressure is increased to abnormal levels, we say that such a person has hypertension.
You should also know that it is harder to pass fluid through a smaller pipe than it is to pass through bigger pipes, therefore having arteries with small or narrow calibres can increase your blood pressure, and can lead to high blood pressure
Hypertension is becoming common, more common today than it has been in the past and younger people are developing it now, it used to be thought among laymen as a disease of old age.
It is even said that half of the people with hypertension do not know that they have it, and half of those who have it are not controlling it properly
Hypertension has been called the silent killer and this has some truth to it as it can develop over the course of many years while damaging vital organs, including the heart, kidneys, the eyes, the brain
It is important to find this condition early and treat it, this means checking your blood pressure as often as possible, regularly.
Causes of Hypertension:
Hypertension has been divided into 2 main types to try to understand their causes:
- Primary or Essential Hypertension
- Secondary or Acquired Hypertension
Also known as primary hypertension, there are no identifiable causes for this kind of hypertension, most people have this kind.
Factors like genetics play a role here as it tends to be passed on,
Other factors like being overweight and not exercising can hasten the development of this kind of hypertension. Being obese carries many risks including the risk of developing hypertension.
This kind of hypertension is usually caused by something wrong in the body and treating the cause usually takes care of the blood pressure,
Certain conditions that can cause this kind of hypertension include:
- Kidney Disease or problems with the blood supply of the kidney
- Thyroid diseases
- Some medications
- Drug abuse for example cocaine
- Alcohol abuse
- Gland problems: adrenal glands
- Some tumours that secrete hormones that may raise your blood pressure
Hypertension in Pregnancy
Some women may develop hypertension for the first time during pregnancy, this is called pregnancy-induced hypertension,
It can become preeclampsia when the person becomes begins to lose some protein in the urine and eclampsia which is life-threatening. Eclampsia basically means when seizures occur in the
This condition may come with leg swelling, blurred vision, nausea, headaches, and epigastric pain,
It is common in women who are
- mothers who are under 20 years of age or over 40,
- pregnancies with more than one baby in the womb(twins)
- A family history of a similar condition
- Black or African American women
Uncontrolled hypertension in pregnancy puts the baby and the mother at risk. It can be controlled with antihypertensives, best prescribed by your doctor,
In many cases, this resolves when the baby is delivered, however, some women go on to develop hypertension after pregnancy.
How do I know I have Hypertension?
Most people will not feel any symptoms, as hypertension is generally silent, and sometimes symptoms may indicate that something is wrong.
These symptoms may include:
- Blood in the urine
- Blurry vision
- Bleeding from the nose
- Feeling weak
But they could also be caused by other conditions, so seeing a doctor when you have these symptoms is important as they could also require emergency care.
The only way to know if you have hypertension is to check your blood pressure often especially if you have a family history of hypertension. This helps you recognize it on time and start treating as soon as possible so it does not lead to complications
It is as simple as placing a cuff over your shoulder and taking a reading. however, some people can have increased blood pressure the moment their blood pressure wants to be checked.
This is called “White Coat Hypertension”. One way to solve this is to check the blood pressure in a place where they are more comfortable.
What Will Your Doctor Do?
The moment your doctor finds out that you have elevated blood pressure, Your doctor may carry out more tests to make sure that everything is fine with you
They may order a cholesterol test and ECG, even a serum electrolyte test to make sure that everything is alright with your kidneys, heart etc. They may also help the doctor identify any other issues that may be present within these organs
To understand Blood pressure, you need to understand certain concepts:
Systolic: This is the amount of pressure that is registered when your heart contracts to pumps blood
Diastolic: This is the amount of pressure measured when your heart relaxes
What is normal Blood pressure:
- Normal Blood Pressure: This should be 120/80mmHg and below, The 120 here is the systolic pressure while the 80 is the diastolic pressure
- Elevated: Anything between 120-129 for systolic and less than 80 for the diastolic, this will not require drugs, but lifestyle management will help control this kind of blood pressure
- Stage 1: Anything between 130 and 139 for systolic, and 80-89 for diastolic
- Stage 2: Anything higher than 140 mm Hg, and greater than 90 for the systolic
- Hypertensive crisis: Anything greater than 180/120mmHg, this requires urgent medical attention.
Depending on the kind of hypertension and the stage, your doctor may decide to start you on medications or want you to make some changes to your lifestyle as this may help reduce your blood pressure.
However, there are some things you can do on your own to help reduce your blood pressure:
- Eat healthily: Have a diet that is friendly to your heart. This means, fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry etc
- Exercise: This is very important as constant exercise helps to increase the caliber of the blood vessels and help reduce blood pressure
Increasing physical activity
Reaching a healthy weight should include being more physically active. In addition to helping you shed pounds, exercise can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure naturally, and strengthen your cardiovascular system.
Aim to get 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. That’s about 30 minutes five times per week.
Reaching a healthy weight
If you are overweight or obese, losing weight eating a heart-healthy diet and increased physical activity can help lower your blood pressure.
One way it does it is by increasing the diameter of your arteries and reducing the pressure.
So yea, exercise works
- Stop Smoking:
- Reduce the amount of red meat you consume and replace with plants
- Reduce the amount of salt you consume, especially if you have a family history of hypertension(this also means consuming less processed foods)
- Limit alcohol: Large amounts of alcohol has been found to transiently increase the blood pressure
Complications of Hypertension
When hypertension is not controlled, it can lead to quite a number of conditions and because hypertension is silent, it can cause quite some damage before it begins to show symptoms.
Here are some of the complications that not controlling your blood pressure can cause over the years
- Enlarged heart: The constant increased pressure makes the heart work harder and this can lead to heart failure, heart attacks, etc
- Strokes: Uncontrolled hypertension can lead to strokes, which happens when the blood vessels in the brain can become blocked or rupture, and carry serious consequences, including death and paralysis, it can also affect learning in some people
- Kidney disease: Uncontrolled hypertension can cause damage to the kidneys as they receive large amounts of blood.