What is Hypertension?
Blood pressure is the measurement of the pressure or force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. In hypertension (high blood pressure), the pressure against the blood vessel walls is consistently too high. High blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” because a person with High BP, may not experience any symptoms. It could take years or even decades for the condition to reach levels that are severe enough for the symptoms to become obvious.
When the blood pressure is too high, the heart has to work harder. Over a period of time, uncontrolled high blood pressure makes one susceptible to kidney diseases, stroke and heart ailments. However high blood pressure can be detected easily. And once an individual knows that they have high blood pressure, they can work with their doctor to control it.
Symptoms of severe hypertension can include, severe headaches, nosebleeds, shortness of breath, blood in urine, dizziness, severe chest pain, and visual changes. These symptoms require immediate medical attention. All of the symptoms may not occur in all individuals, but it is very dangerous to wait until any of these conditions appear as it could prove to be fatal.
There are also several Risk Factors that make an individual more prone or rather at risk of Hypertension.
Age: The risk of high blood pressure increases with age. High blood pressure is common in men; women are likely to develop high blood pressure after age 65.
Sedentary Lifestyle: Not being physically active. Individuals who are inactive tend to have higher heart rates. The higher the heart rate, the harder the heart must work with each contraction and the stronger the force on the arteries. Lack of physical activity can also increase the risk of being overweight. Being obese or overweight. The more one weighs, the more blood is needed to supply oxygen and nutrients to the tissues. Hence as the volume of blood circulated through the blood vessels increases so does the pressure on the artery walls.
Family history or genetics: High blood pressure tends to run in the family.
Smoking: Smoking or chewing tobacco immediately causes a rise in the blood pressure, Also, chemicals in tobacco can damage the lining of the artery walls, which can cause the arteries to narrow, increasing the blood pressure. Secondhand smoke risk factor for causing a rise in the blood pressure.
- Too much sodium in the diet can cause the body to retain fluid, which causes an increase in the blood pressure.
- Too little potassium: Potassium helps to balance the amount of sodium in the cells. If one does not get enough potassium in their diet, they may end up accumulating too much sodium in the blood.
- Too little vitamin D in the diet: It is uncertain if having very little vitamin D in the diet can lead to high blood pressure. Vitamin D may affect an enzyme produced by the kidneys that affect the blood pressure.
Consuming too much alcohol: Moderation is the key for individuals who drink alcohol. Over time, heavy drinking can damage their heart.
Stress: Stress can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure. If one is looking at ways to relax by eating more, or using tobacco or drinking alcohol, they may only end up increasing their problems with high blood pressure.
Sometimes pregnancy can also contribute to high blood pressure.
Although high blood pressure is common in adults, children may also be at risk. For some children, high blood pressure can be caused by problems with the heart or kidneys. For a large number of children, poor lifestyle choices, such as an unhealthy diet, which means, consuming too much junk and processed food, obesity, and lack of exercise, are some of the biggest contributing factors to high blood pressure.
Since Hypertension is known to be a silent killer, one of the best ways to know if they have hypertension is to get the blood pressure checked regularly. It is recommended to talk to the doctor about one’s risk for hypertension. For example, if one has a family history of heart disease or have any of the risk factors mentioned above, the doctor may recommend having the Blood pressure checked at regular intervals. This helps the individual and the doctor to stay on top of any possible issues before they become problematic.