Hypertension also known as high blood pressure is a common condition in which the force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease. Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure. High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and a major cause of heart attack. In the U.S alone, more than 30% of American adults have high blood pressure. Hypertension is often called the “the silent killer” because it rarely caauses symptoms, even as it inflicts serious damage to the body. You can have high blood pressure for years without any symptoms. If your blood pressure is uncontrolled it can increase your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke. High blood pressure develops over many years, and it affects nearly everyone eventually. Although high blood pressure is most common in adults, children may be at risk also. For some children, high blood pressure is caused by problems with the kidneys or heart. But for a growing number of kids, poor lifestyle habits, such as an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise contribute to high blood pressure. Most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even if blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels. Although a few people with early stage high blood pressure may have dull headaches, dizzy spells or a few more nosebleeds than normal, these signs and symptoms typically don’t occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe, even life threatening stage. Thankfully, high blood pressure can be easily detected. Once you know you have it you can work with your doctor in controlling it.
There are two types of high blood pressure. First, Primary (essential) hypertension. For most adults, there’s no identifiable cause of high blood pressure. This type of high blood pressure, tends to develop gradually over many years. Second, Seconday hypertension. Some people have high blood pressure caused by an underlying condition. This type of high blood pressure, tends to appear suddenly and cause higher blood pressure than does primary hypertension. Various conditions and medications can lead to secondary hypertension.
High blood pressure has many risk factors including: age(the risk of high blood pressure increases as you age), race, family history, being overweight or obese(the more you weigh,the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients you your tissues), not being physically active, using tobacco, using to much salt in your diet(too much salt can cause your body to retain fluid which increases blood pressure), too little potassiium in your diet, too little vitamin D in your diet, drinking alcohol, stress and certain chronic conditions. The excessive pressure on your artery walls caused by high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels, as well as organs in your body. The higher your blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater the damage. High blood pressure can cause hardening and thickening of the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other complications.
Blood pressure is measured with an inflatable arm cuff and pressure measuring gauge. A blood pressure reading, has two numbers. The first, or upper, number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats which is called systolic pressure. The second, or lower, number measures the pressure in your arteries between beats which is called diastolic pressure. There are four general blood pressure measurements. Fist, normal blood pressue. Your blood pressure is normal if it’s below 120/80. However, some doctors recomment 115/75 as a better goal. Once blood pressure rises above 115/75 the risk of cardiovascular disease begins to increase. Second, prehypertension. Prehypertension is a blood pressure measurement of 120/80 to 139/89. Prehypertension tends to get worse over time. Third, Stage 1 hypertension. Stage 1 hypertension is a blood pressure reading ranging from 140/90 to 159/99. Fourth, Stage 2 hypertension. More severe hypertension, stage 2 hypertension is a blood pressure reading of 160/100 or higher. Changing your lifestyle can go a long way torward controlling high blood pressure. But sometimes lifestyle changes aren’t enough. In addition to diet and exercise, your doctor may recommend medication to lower your blood pressure. Which category of medication your doctor prescribes depends on your stage of high blood pressure and weather you also have other medical problems.
It’s never too early to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, eating healthy foods and becoming more physically active. These are primary lines of defense against high blood pressure and its complications.
Choosing Health by: Lynch, Elmore, Morgan
Steadmans medical dictionary 28th Edition