Hypertension

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common condition. Blood pressure is caused by the amount of blood the heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. When the heart pumps more blood, the arteries become narrower and blood pressure becomes higher.

SYMPTOMS

High blood pressure is a silent condition and patients experience no symptoms until it becomes severe and life-threatening. At this stage few may experience

  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nosebleeds
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Visual changes
  • Blood in urine

TYPES

There are two types of high blood pressure

  • Primary (essential) hypertension:

    this type has no known cause but develops gradually throughout the years

  • Secondary hypertension:

    this type of hypertension is caused by underlying conditions. It tends to appear suddenly and causes higher blood pressure than essential hypertension.

CAUSES

There are no known causes but the following play a role:

  • Smoking
  • Overweight
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Excess salt
  • Excess consumption of alcohol
  • Stress
  • Ageing
  • Genetics
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Adrenal and thyroid disorders
  • Sleep apnea
  • Inadequate fruit and vegetable
  • Use of hard drugs

RISK FACTORS

  • Age:

    as you age, the risk of having high blood pressure increases. It is more common in men until 64 and develop in women after age 65.

  • Race:

    it is more common in the African race and it develops at an earlier age. Serious complications such as heart failure, stroke, heart attack and kidney failure are more common with Africans

  • Family history:

    this condition tends to run in the family

  • Overweight:

    the more you weigh, the more blood the heart needs to pump and the more blood the heart pumps to circulate, the more pressured the arteries.

  • Tobacco:

    the use of tobacco not only raises your blood pressure temporarily but also damages the lining of your artery walls.

  • Lack of physical activity:

    not being physically active tend to increase the heart rate and gives chance to being overweight

  • Alcohol intake:

    consumption of excess alcohol increases chance of high blood pressure

  • Poor diet:

    excessive intake of fatty and salty foods increases risk of increased blood pressure and heart disease

COMPLICATION

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Blood clots
  • Aneurysm
  • Kidney disease
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Brain function and memory loss
  • Dementia
  • Thickened, narrow or torn blood vessels in the eyes
  • Thickened, narrow or torn blood vessels in the lungs

DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosing high blood pressure is as easy as getting a blood pressure reading in the doctor’s office. You’re likely to get a reading during a routine visit. If you are above 18, ask your doctor for blood pressure reading at least once in two years.

If you blood pressure is high, your doctor will perform the readings a number of times over a couple of weeks to see evidence. He will also perform other tests including:

  • Urine test
  • Cholesterol screening and other blood test
  • Test the electric activity in your heart with an EKG
  • Ultrasound of your heart or lungs

TREATMENT

Treatment of hypertension is dependent on several factors such as the severity and risk associated with developing cardiovascular disease or stroke. Different treatment plan will be recommended as blood pressure increases. Some of them include:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Medications
  • Diet
  • Sleep

Ensure you consult your doctor to recommend a suitable treatment plan for your condition.

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