Learn how high blood pressure can affect your health and some of the things that may trigger it. You will also find ways to manage and control it effectively.
- Hypertension can be due to various reasons and is a severe condition that can cause stroke, heart disease, and other health complications. If left untreated, it can be fatal.
- Most people don’t realize they have hypertension because it often doesn’t present noticeable symptoms—this is why it’s referred to as the silent killer.
- Hypertension is of two types: primary and secondary. Primary hypertension develops over many years and has no specific cause, while secondary hypertension is due to an underlying condition like kidney disease or a hormonal disorder.
Early morning headaches and blurry vision are an indication that you might be harboring high blood pressure. Also known as hypertension, it is a medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is elevated.
High blood pressure can be due to various reasons and is a serious condition that can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other health complications. If left untreated, it can be fatal.
Interestingly, most people don’t realize they have hypertension because it often doesn’t present noticeable symptoms. Perhaps, which is why it’s also referred to as the silent killer.
In this blog post, we’ll explore what it is, its signs, and its causes. We will also share preventative measures to help manage and control it before it becomes deadly.
What Are The Types Of Hypertension?
There are two types of hypertension―primary and secondary.
Primary hypertension is the most common type and has no specific cause. It develops over many years and can be a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors.
Secondary hypertension is much less common and is caused by an underlying condition. This could be something like kidney disease or a hormonal disorder.
Learn how to check blood pressure at home with our guide.
What Causes Primary High Blood Pressure?
The precise cause of primary hypertension is unknown. However, it is believed that unhealthy habits or certain health conditions could cause primary hypertension.
Some of the most noteworthy are
- If you are 65 years or older.
- A diet rich in salt
- Drinking excessive coffee and other caffeinated beverages
- A medical history of hypertension running in the family
- Overconsumption of alcohol
- A lifestyle that consists of little to no physical activity
- Issues with sleeping, such as insomnia.
In most cases, primary hypertension develops gradually over many years. In a small percentage of people, the condition may grow more quickly.
This is more likely to occur if there is a family history of hypertension or if another medical condition is present that can increase blood pressure, such as sleep apnea.
What Causes Secondary High Blood Pressure?
Secondary hypertension, similar to primary hypertension, usually does not have any associated symptoms. This is seen even when blood pressure has reached dangerously high levels.
However, if you have any of the following symptoms and have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may have secondary hypertension:
- If your systolic blood pressure is over 180 mm Hg or your diastolic blood pressure is above 120 mm Hg, you have very high blood pressure.
- If your blood pressure doesn’t drop after taking medication, you may have resistant hypertension.
- High blood pressure suddenly develops before age 30 or after age 55.
- If your blood pressure is high and isn’t responding to medication like it used to
- You don’t have a family history of high blood pressure.
- A lack of obesity
People can have both primary and secondary high blood pressure. However, managing primary and secondary hypertension can be difficult, especially when blood pressure control suddenly worsens.
In such cases, it’s important to consider whether a new secondary cause might be at play.
What Are The High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Symptoms?
The symptoms of high blood pressure can differ from person to person, and many people won’t experience any at all.
However, some common symptoms may include:
- Frequent headaches
- Severe fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Muscle tremors
People afflicted with high blood pressure may also experience irregular heart rhythms, nosebleeds, vision changes, and buzzing in the ears.
Although individuals with well-managed high blood pressure have a low chance of experiencing an extreme spike in blood pressure, those with uncontrolled hypertension should be aware of the warning signs.
How Is High Blood Pressure Diagnosed?
A blood pressure test diagnoses high blood pressure when the reading is 130/80 mm Hg or higher. The analysis is usually based on an average of two or more readings from different times.
Your blood pressure readings are classified according to how high they measure. This is called staging, and it helps determine the course of treatment.
- Stage 1 hypertension. You have high blood pressure if the top number is between 130 and 139 mm Hg or the bottom number is between 80 and 89 mm Hg.
- Stage 2 hypertension. A measurement of 140 mm Hg or higher for the top number or 90 mm Hg or higher for the bottom number is considered abnormal.
What Exactly Happens When Your Blood Pressure Is High?
Having high blood pressure means that the force of the blood against your artery walls is too high. This extra force makes your heart work harder than it should.
The heart’s walls start to thicken, a condition known as left ventricular hypertrophy. Eventually, the heart can’t pump enough blood, leading to heart failure.
When the arteries are damaged, it can eventually lead to a heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, or other serious problems.
Other complications that may take place include
- Aneurysm. A bulging blood vessel can lead to aneurysms, which are life-threatening if rupture.
- Changes in memory. Uncontrolled blood pressure might influence your thinking, memory, and learning ability.
- Eye problems. High blood pressure can damage your eyesight by harming the vessels that provide blood to your eyeballs. They may become thick, narrow, and torn.
- Kidney problems. High blood pressure narrows or weakens the blood vessels in the kidneys, leading to kidney damage.
- Metabolic syndrome. This disorder refers to the body’s irregular metabolism of sugar, also called glucose. The syndrome entails a larger waist size, high triglycerides, low levels of HDL cholesterol, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure. These conditions can lead to diabetes, heart disease, or stroke if left unchecked.
- Dementia. Vascular dementia, a type of cognitive decline, can result from decreased blood flow to the brain due to blocked or narrow arteries. A stroke that prevents blood from reaching the brain may also cause vascular dementia.
Is Hypertension A Treatable Condition?
No, high blood pressure cannot be cured completely. However, it is a manageable one. You can do many things to keep your blood pressure under control and reduce your risk of developing complications.
Some of the preventative measures include:
Be physically active
Regular exercise such as brisk walking can help to lower the systolic blood pressure by up to 4 to 9 mmHg.
Cut back on salt
If you have high blood pressure and you’re taking diuretic medication, this will help the kidneys to remove fluid from your blood.
The sodium in salt counteracts this effect of the diuretics, stopping them from working well. Eat less than 6g (0.2oz) of salt each day.
It will allow your medicines to work and your kidneys to do their job, lowering the amount of excess fluid in your blood and blood pressure.
Eat a healthy diet
A low-fat diet with plenty of fiber-rich foods such as wholegrain rice, bread, pasta, and lots of fruit and vegetables can also help lower blood pressure. More on “Best Foods, Herbs and Spices to Lower Blood Pressure” in this article.
Follow a keto diet
A ketogenic diet can help to lower blood pressure by reducing insulin levels and inflammation.
The ketogenic diet helps you lose weight quickly by breaking down fat stores for energy in place of depending on carbs from food. You don’t have to worry about counting calories, either.
The ketogenic diet also suppresses appetites, makes people more energized, and lowers insulin levels—three things that help contribute to fighting hypertension.
Lose weight if you’re overweight or obese
A small loss can help reduce your blood pressure. For every 2.2 pounds (or kilogram) of weight lost, blood pressure decreases by 1 millimeter of mercury (mm Hg).
Reduce your alcohol intake
If you reduce your alcohol consumption, you can lower your systolic pressure by 5.5 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and your diastolic pressure by 4 mm Hz.
If you have high BP, avoid alcohol or only drink moderately.
Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure. Relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation may help reduce stress levels.
If you cannot lower your blood pressure by making these lifestyle changes, your doctor may prescribe medication.
A variety of different medications are available to treat hypertension. These include Alpha-blockers, Aldosterone antagonists, alpha-beta-blockers, vasodilators, Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, renin inhibitors, and central-acting agents.
You may be asked to take more than one medication to bring your blood pressure under control. If this is the case, your doctor will work with you to find the best combination of drugs for your individual needs.
Although high blood pressure is a common condition, it can be very serious if left untreated. It is important to know the symptoms and causes of high blood pressure so that you can get treatment if needed.
High blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, and other health problems, so it is important to keep it under control. If you think you may have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about how to lower your risk for these serious health problems.
Do you need more info about BP? Check out our Blood Pressure Chart guide!
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