In a shocking revelation, it was found out that one in every three adult in the US is suffering from hypertension. This means that almost 68 million people only in the US are suffering from this problem. And there are another 30% Americans which suffer from prehypertension stage. You can imagine the statistics of highly populated countries of China and India. According to government data high BP claimed the lives of 347,000 Americans in the year 2008. Shocking figures! Aren’t they? Especially when people are make a fuss about diseases like cancer and AIDS.
Until recently High blood pressure or hypertension was not taken so seriously and people were casual about it. It was only after the establishment of relationship between high blood pressure and the occurrences of strokes, heart attacks, other heart diseases and kidney failure that people started to take this problem seriously.
What is Hypertension?
Hypertension or high blood pressure is the pumping of blood by heart with excessive pressure than normal. Heart pumps blood into the arteries to supply oxygen and food to all parts of the body. Due to certain reasons (we shall discuss later) the pressure with which heart pumps becomes high causing many complications.
The normal blood pressure is 120/80 and patients suffering from hypertension have BP higher than 140/90. People who have their BP lying in between normal and high BP that is, 120/80 and 140/90 are in the prehypertension stage. People who are in prehypertension stage have more chances of developing BP as high as 140/90 and beyond.
People who suffer are already suffering from heart diseases and kidney failures are supposed to keep even lower BP than normal people.
There are two types of hypertension
• Essential hypertension:
This is the most common type. About 90 to 95% of the total hypertension cases are of this type. It includes cases where the cause of high BP is not known. Genes play an important role in the blood pressure of an individual. Although the connection between genetic structure and blood pressure has been found out but unfortunately, the real cause and cure of genetically induces high BP is little known.
• Secondary hypertension:
In this case high BP is the result of an ailment. It occurs in people who have chronic kidney diseases, disorders of the adrenal glands, hyperparathyroidism, and medication like birth control pills, migraine medication, pregnancy and narrowed arteries supplying blood to the kidneys.
Causes of hypertension
With increasing age, the stiffness of arteries increases. It results in increased pressure in the arteries and thus increases the chances of stroke, attacks and kidney failures.
Obesity or being overweight:
Obesity is characterized by high cholesterol level in the blood. This cholesterol gets accumulated in the arteries posing an obstruction in the path of blood flow. This in turn increases blood pressure. This is the sole reason why obese people are at high risk of getting heart attacks.
A minimum eight hour sleep is necessary for the body parts to function properly. When a person works without taking proper rest all body systems work under stress. Heart in the wake to provide more aerated blood to every cell of the body pumps harder resulting into high blood pressure.
Lack of physical exercise:
Physical exercises help in regulating blood flow to every cell and strengthen the muscles of heart walls. Exercises especially aerobics target the heart muscles and help in keeping the blood pressure under control.
High level of salt intake:
Salt is composed of ions and is essential for many body functions and maintaining the ionic balance in blood and other body fluids. However excess salt intake increases blood pressure by retaining more fluids in the body and not letting it filter out from the glomerulus filtrate.
The other reasons of hypertension are
Deficiency of Vitamin D, Adrenal and thyroid irregularities, tumors, genetics and family history, smoking and alcohol consumption, insufficient potassium, magnesium and calcium consumption.
Symptoms of hypertension
Normally the aggressive and sometimes irritable behavior of human beings is considered to be the symptoms of hypertension. However it is not completely right, as there is unfortunately no clear cut physical symptom to diagnose high BP. Most people do not even know that they have high blood pressure until they encounter some serious problem. This is why it goes unnoticed for even years. But when the blood pressure increases to an alarming level it causes certain symptoms, they are:
Blood in urine
Fatigue or confusion
All these symptoms make a person irritable and that is where the common belief of aggression as the symptom of hypertension originated.
Diagnosis of hypertension
The symptoms of high BP lands a patient into doctor’s chair where the doctor confirms the problem using an instrument called sphygmomanometer. It is the same device which you see usually on the doctor’s table and consist of a pumping device a dial and meter which shows reading.
On confirmation of high BP the doctor may ask the patient to undergo ECG or electrocardiogram to check the impulses and current in the heart. An ECG shows the structure and exact condition of the heart.
The doctor may then go for blood tests and urine test to identify the possible secondary hypertension.
Treatment of hypertension
The treatment of hypertension aims at bringing the blood pressure to a normal level. There are two ways of attaining that goal:
In most cases high BP is due to irregular lifestyle. By incorporating simple changes you can maintain your BP under control. The changes include
Exercises (for at least half an hour daily) especially aerobic exercises which strengthens heart muscles
Healthy diet with less cholesterol
Reducing intake of salt
Refraining from alcohol and smoking
A proper rest of 8 hours daily
There are many classes of drugs which are being used to treat hypertension and they include calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, diuretics, ARB drugs, alpha-blockers, and peripheral vasodilators. These drugs are sometimes used individually or in combination with the others depending upon the extent of high BP. The choice of medicine also depends upon the special condition of patients like pregnancy or patients suffering from some other diseases.
Prevention of hypertension
Now that you know exactly how commo0n this ailment is, it is essential to make sure that you are safe from it. The best way to counter hypertension is to prevent it. Here are some points to help you in keeping hypertension at bay.
Hypertension can be prevented by following a healthy and disciplined life style, regulating the intake of salt, doing regular exercises and reducing alcohol consumption. Reducing stress and maintaining proper body weight is also helpful in preventing hypertension.
Hypertension is one of the most common diseases and the most common cause of heart attacks and strokes. To control the spread of this disease a regular screening is essential to diagnose it at early stage and cure it before it gets out of control.