Blood pressure is the measurement of the pressure or force of blood pushing through blood vessels (arteries). Arteries deliver blood from the heart to the tissues of the body. The measurement of blood pressure keeps changing throughout the day. Hypertension — most commonly known as high blood pressure is a serious medical condition during which the force of blood pushing through the arteries becomes too high.
Study shows that nearly 1 in 2 American adults (116 million) has hypertension. Cardiologists at Peak Heart & Vascular state that hypertension should be diagnosed and treated timely. Ignoring its symptoms or delaying the treatment can increase the risk of some serious complications, such as heart failure, kidney failure, stroke, etc.
Hypertension has several risk factors. This mainly includes the following but is not limited to.
1. Age — Age is considered a major factor that increases the risk of developing hypertension.
2. Gender — Hypertension is more common in men until the age of 64. After the age of 65, women are prone to develop this condition.
3. Family History — Hypertension tends to run in families with a history of high blood pressure.
4. Overweight — This comes among the top causes of hypertension. The more you weigh, the more you are likely to develop this problem.
5. Inactive Lifestyle — You are likely to develop hypertension if you lead an inactive lifestyle. Lack of physical activity significantly increases the risk of high blood pressure.
6. Alcohol & Tobacco — Excess consumption of alcohol and tobacco increases the risk of hypertension. You can either cut short the limit or stop the consumption to avoid complications.
7. Stress — Stress and stress-related habits such as eating more, smoking more, or drinking alcohol more increase the risk of high blood pressure.
8. Too Much Salt — Consuming too much salt is also a major factor that increases the risk of developing this condition. Try to avoid adding too much sodium to your diet.
9. Chronic Conditions — Certain chronic conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, or sleep apnea may also increase the risk of hypertension.
Apart from all the above, pregnancy can also play a major role in increasing blood pressure. However, timely blood pressure check-ups, diet and lifestyle modification can help you reduce the risk of developing this condition easily and efficiently.
Usually, hypertension doesn’t show any symptoms. That’s why most people don’t even know they have high blood pressure until it causes some serious health problems. Cardiologists suggest that some people with hypertension may have headaches, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, vision changes, buzzing in the ears, or nosebleed.
But do remember that these symptoms are not specific and usually don’t occur until high blood pressure reaches a life-threatening stage. If you experience any of the above symptoms or are doubtful about the condition, consult a cardiologist as soon as possible.
Routine blood pressure check-up is the best and only way to detect hypertension early. Although you can measure your blood pressure, using automated devices, an evaluation by an experienced heart specialist is important for the assessment of risk and associated conditions.
Hypertension treatment is determined by several factors, such as the cause and severity of the condition and your age as well as overall health. Usually, the doctor starts with dietary and lifestyle changes to reduce blood pressure. If this doesn’t help and proves to be ineffective, the doctor prescribes certain medications.
The type of medication the doctor prescribes depends on your blood pressure measurements and overall health. Do keep in mind that sometimes finding the most effective drugs or a combination of drugs may take several trials and errors. Medicines used for high blood pressure treatment includes:-
These are the most commonly used medications used to treat hypertension. They help the kidneys get rid of excess water and salt, and reduce the volume of blood that needs to pass through the arteries, lowering the blood pressure. Diuretics are classified into major three types, including thiazide, potassium-sparing, and loop diuretics.
They block the actions of chemicals in the body that stimulate the heart, allowing the heart to beat with less speed and force. Due to this, the heart pumps less blood through the blood vessels, decreasing the blood pressure.
They help the body produce less hormone called angiotensin that causes the arteries to become narrow throughout the body, especially in the kidneys. As a result, blood vessels relax and open up, lowering the blood pressure.
They protect the blood vessels from the effects of angiotensin II, which causes the arteries to become narrow. Angiotensin II needs a receptor-like chemical slot to fit or bind to tighten blood vessels. Due to this, the blood vessels stay open and blood pressure is reduced.
This blocks calcium from entering the smooth muscle cells of the heart and blood vessels, ultimately the heart starts beating with less force and helps the blood vessels to relax. Due to this, the blood pressure is reduced.
Alpha-blockers reduce the arteries’ resistance and relax the muscle tone of the vascular walls. This blocks catecholamine from binding to alpha-receptors. As a result, blood flows through the blood vessels freely and the heart starts beating normally, ultimately lowering the blood pressure. Apart from all the above, the doctor may also prescribe other medications, including alpha-beta-blockers, central agonists, vasodilators, aldosterone receptor antagonists, direct renin inhibitors, etc.
Hypertension is a serious condition that requires proper medical treatment to prevent more serious health problems. Don’t get confused by all the medication options that we have provided. An experienced cardiologist can help you decide which drugs might work best for you. With a personalized treatment plan and certain dietary and lifestyle tips, the doctor can help you greatly reduce your blood pressure and have a healthy life.