Blood pressure is the force exerted by a person’s blood against the walls of the blood vessels. The pressure depends on the amount of blood pumped by the heart and the resistance of the arteries to the blood flow. There are two numerical components of blood pressure, systolic and diastolic values. The former denotes the maximum pressure in the arteries, which is when the heart contracts and the latter indicates the minimum pressure, which is the value when the heart expands. The normal blood pressure value is defined as below 120/80, where 120 and 80 and the systolic and diastolic measurements respectively.
Hypertension is the condition of either temporary or chronic evaluation of the blood pressure. Usually, a value exceeding 140/90 is referred to as high blood pressure.
Types of Hypertension
Based on the causes of hypertension, there are two types:
• Primary Hypertension
• Secondary Hypertension
Primary Hypertension has no identifiable cause and is also known as essential hypertension. This develops gradually over a period of many years. Although the exact causes for this category of high blood pressure is not clearly known, researchers have identified a combination of factors that may be responsible, such as:
- Unhealthy lifestyle: Unhealthy dietary habits and lack of exercise can make a person obese and
increase the risk of hypertension.
- Genes: Some people may develop this condition due to hereditary factors from their parents and
may be genetically predisposed to high blood pressure.
- Physical changes: Certain changes in a person’s body, for example, changes in the kidney function
as a consequence of ageing, may cause the blood pressure to rise as a response.
Secondary Hypertension develops suddenly and is caused by an underlying condition. This is more potent
than primary hypertension. Some of the conditions that can result in this disorder are:
- Kidney disease
- Thyroid problems
- Congenital defects
- Alcohol and substance abuse (for e.g. cocaine)
- Adrenal gland tumours
- Endocrine tumours
- Obstructive sleep apnea
Signs and Symptoms of Hypertension
Hypertension is known as a silent killer as the person may not notice any symptoms until its too late, when the heart, kidneys and other organs are affected. However, in severe cases, people may suffer from the following symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Blood in the urine
How can hypertension be treated?
The initial forms of treatment are lifestyle adjustments such as:
- Regular physical activity, for example, jogging, swimming, cycling etc moderate intensity for about 150 minutes in a week can lower the blood pressure.
- Stress management techniques such as meditation and yoga have been proven to be immensely beneficial to those having high blood pressure.
- Smoking and consumption of alcohol must be stopped as they can cause other serious conditions and contribute to elevated blood pressure levels.
- Lowering salt intake can decrease the risk of hypertension.
- Avoid saturated fats and instead opt for lots of fruits and vegetables, high fiber foods, beans, pulses and olive oil.
- Maintaining a healthy body weight ensures that the heart doesn’t have to exert itself to pump blood to all the parts of the body, which keeps blood pressure under check.
- Medications such as diuretics and beta-blockers can be taken based on the doctors’ prescription.
An important thing to note is that irrespective of the category of hypertension, preventive measures are
the best and most effective way of managing this condition as well as ensuring overall well-being.