Hypertension or high blood pressure feature prominently in most health discussions. Worldwide, it’s the most common disease that causes complications. Most people aren’t aware that this is of utmost concern. At early stages, it may be asymptomatic. But over time, it can ruin your heart and kidneys, and cause strokes and heart attacks.
High blood pressure or hypertension refers to the force of blood exerted by the pumping of your heart against your artery walls. It also depends on how solidly your heart pumps blood. In simpler terms, hypertension as taken through a blood pressure apparatus reveals the amount of blood your heart pumps and the degree of resistance of your arteries to blood flow.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
Usually, if it isn’t a habit to have your blood pressure taken regularly you won’t have any idea you have hypertension. Some people go through life not knowing they have high blood pressure until a sudden heart attack or stroke occurs.
Early stage hypertension symptoms include dull headaches, dizziness or even occasional nose bleeding.
You may not feel any outstanding symptoms. Still, it’s important to know your blood pressure and have it taken regularly. Blood pressure readings are offered as a routine procedure every time you visit a health care provider.
What Causes Hypertension
There are two main categories of hypertension namely primary or essential hypertension and secondary hypertension.
It is categorized as primary hypertension if there isn’t any known cause. Most types fall under this group.
Secondary hypertension occurs when an underlying cause is identified such as secondary to a kidney problem, adrenal gland tumors, congenital defects of blood vessels, certain medications like contraceptive pills, cold and sinusitis remedies like decongestants, over the counter pain relievers and other prescription drugs. Intake of illegal drugs like amphetamines and cocaine cause hypertension too.
There are numerous hypertension risk factors. Some are the following:
- Age-Most men develop hypertension in early middle age while women develop it after menopause.
- It is more common amongst blacks to develop hypertension earlier that whites.
- It runs in families. If your dad or mom has it, you will have a tendency to develop hypertension too.
- Being overweight or obese.
- Sedentary lifestyles
- Smoking including second hand smoke
- Dietary factors – too much salt or sodium intake, low potassium intake
- Insufficient vitamin D
- Too much alcohol
- High levels of stress
- High cholesterol, diabetes, kidney disease, sleep apnea and in other cases pregnancy can contribute to high blood pressure.
In children, hypertension may be due to kidney or heart problems, unhealthy diets and lack of exercise.
As time goes on, the excessive pressure on your artery walls damages your blood vessels and your organs. Prolonged hypertension damages the delicate artery walls of your organs. The higher your blood pressure reading, the more damage it can do to your body.
Hypertension can harden and thicken your arteries termed as atherosclerosis that can lead to fatal heart attacks, stroke and other complications.
Hypertension weakens some portion of your arteries which can form a balloon like bulge called an aneurysm. Rupture can cause death.
Heart failure can result when your heart has difficulty of pumping blood to your arteries. As a result, it thickens and when it does, blood vessels to your heart won’t be able to nourish heart muscles that have thickened. As a consequence, it can lead to heart failure.
Hypertension narrows and weaken the sensitive blood vessels in your kidneys and can damage them. If your kidneys are damaged they might not be able to do their function well.
Sensitive blood vessels in your eyes can narrow due to longstanding hypertension. Consequently, they get torn and result in blindness.
What you can do
Effective treatments are available to control your hypertension and prevent complications. The best thing you can do is to make an appointment with a cardiologist. Couple your medications with healthy lifestyle habits and you won’t go wrong.