High Blood Pressure: Causes Symptom & Treatment

Hypertension: Index of Contents

What is normal blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force which blood flow exerts on artery walls. High blood pressure is a condition where blood pressure is chronically elevated inside the blood vessel.

Blood pressure is measured using sphygmomanometer. The device measures the force exerted by blood in two phases:

1)      Pressure when the heart contracts (systolic pressure)

2)      Pressure when the heart expands (diastolic pressure)

Pressure in measured in terms of the millimetre rise in mercury levels in the device and is noted as

A/B mmHg

Where,

A = Systolic blood pressure

B = Diastolic blood pressure

Blood pressure of 120/80 mmHg (+/- 10% variance) is generally considered normal.

Blood pressure of 100/70 mmHg (+/- 10% variance) is generally considered low (hypotension).

Blood pressure equal to or above 140/90 mmHg is generally considered high (Hypertension).

These figures are a general indication and normal levels may vary from person to person depending on several factors like age, body structure, climatic conditions, nature of work and general lifestyle.

What is High Blood Pressure/ Hypertension?

Blood pressure of 120/80 mmHg (+/- 10% variance) is generally considered normal.

A blood pressure equal to or above 140/90 mmHg is generally considered as high blood pressure. However the figure may slightly vary from person to person and may reach up to 160/95 mmHg.

Blood pressure varies from time to time. It falls at night or during relaxation. It increases during emotional or physical stress. It also rises during extreme weather conditions. Such an increase in blood pressure is normally associated with increased level of adrenaline in the blood stream and is normally not a disease.

Hypertension is a disease if it results in a chronic elevation of blood pressure. Hypertension may be considered chronic, if blood pressure is found to be higher than normal in at least three successive measurements taken in similar stress free measurements.

People at Risk of Hypertension

High Blood Pressure or Hypertension is one of the most major public health hazards across the globe. As per an estimate, about 23% of the adult population of the world suffer from this cardiovascular disorder.

Hypertension may affect people of either sex and of all age. However epidemiological studies suggest that Hypertension is more common amongst people above the age of 45. The incidence of Hypertension is most common in people above 65 years of age.

Possible Risks and Complications of hypertension

Hypertension or high blood pressure generally affects the heart, brain, kidneys and eyes. It is a silent killer which primarily causes cardiovascular disorders.

Prolonged or sudden fluctuations in blood pressure can result in several complications like heart failure, stroke, ventricular hypertrophy, coronary atherosclerosis, angina and other endothelium damages. Hypertension is also associated with depletion of coronary vasodilatory reserve.

Causes of High Blood Pressure

The main causes of high blood pressure are:

1)      Hyperactivity of brain and peripheral nervous system

2)      Hormonal imbalance

3)      Fetal malnutrition especially related with low weight at birth

4)      Increase in general toxicity levels in our body due to and wrong lifestyle

5)      Hardening of arteries due to vascular hypertrophy or poor functioning of endothelium

6)      Hereditary  inheritance

7)      Excessive  sodium retention due to disorder of kidneys

Hormonal imbalance is generally related to abnormal release of adrenaline, aldosterone, angiotensin, insulin, prostaglandins or rennin in the body.

Toxicity is often associated with stressful living, consumption of tea, coffee, excessive smoking and intake of refined foods

Hardening of arteries is most commonly associated with obesity, excessive intake of common salt (sodium), low intake of potassium, sedentary lifestyle and excessive consumption of alcohol. Eating high fat food and low fibre food, may be other causes of high blood pressure.

Essential Vs secondary hypertension ?

Hypertension is sometimes caused due to some other disease like atherosclerosis, hyperthyroidism, adenoma, acromegaly, diabetes mellitus and several other vascular disorders. Such cases of Hypertension are called Secondary Hypertension.

If the exact cause of hypertension is not traceable, it is called essential hypertension.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure does not have visible symptoms in the beginning. Mild headaches, pain in the back and the neck in morning, tiredness, stress, anxiety and irritation are the preliminary symptoms. People often fail to associate these mild symptoms with Hypertension. It is only diagnosed during blood pressure check during medical check ups.

The following are more visible symptoms of high blood pressure which appear at later stages:

  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain in the heart region
  • Nervous tension
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Fatigue

 

Allopathic treatment of High Blood Pressure

Upon detection of high blood pressure, doctors try to systematically locate the reason for hypertension. Depending upon the diagnosed cause, different treatments are prescribed.

Doctors primarily prescribe different blockers to keep hypertension under control. Beta-blockers are used to block the beta receptors of adrenaline which result in slowing down of heart beat and lowering of blood pressure. Calcium blockers slow down muscular absorption of calcium which results in lowering of blood pressure. Several other hormonal and enzyme blockers are used depending upon the diagnosed cause of hypertension.

Additionally doctors employ diuretics to induce copious urination which flushes out toxic radicals from the kidney.

While most of the blockers provide immediate relief from hypertension, they fail to address the root cause. Thus these prescriptions create a high level of dependence. The prescriptions often tend to loose their effectiveness as body adapts to these medicines forcing the doctors to increase the dose over period of time.

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