High blood pressure or hypertension is a condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is above normal. Blood pressure is measured by recording the highest arterial pressure during systole and the lowest arterial pressure during diastole. For a long time, doctors have classified normal blood pressure to be 120/80. However, the American Heart Association changed the standard to be lower than 120/80 after careful research about long-term effects of even a slight hypertension.
When a person is easily angered, he or she is said to have high blood pressure, which is not true! Bad temper is not a sign of hypertension although heightened emotion can increase blood pressure. Perhaps this is the only connection between hypertension and bad temper.
Causes of hypertension
There are two types of hypertension each with different causes: essential and secondary hypertension. About 90 to 95 percent of hypertension cases are essential hypertension, which has no definite causes. However, essential hypertension can be associated with aging, race, and salt intake. People who have high salt intake tend to have this type of hypertension.
The secondary type of hypertension accounts to 5 to 10 percent of hypertension cases. Unlike essential hypertension, this type can be associated directly to underlying causes. It can be caused by kidney disease, adrenal gland tumor, heart defects, and prescription or illegal drugs.
Symptoms of hypertension
A slight to moderate increase of blood pressure is almost undetectable in terms of symptoms. An extreme hypertension, however, can show symptoms such as unusually frequent nosebleeds, headache, nausea, fatigue, vision problems, chest pain, palpitation, breathing difficulty, and even blood in the urine. But these conditions can also be caused by other health problems. The only definite diagnosis is a blood pressure examination by a doctor. People who have any or all these symptoms are advised to see a doctor immediately because hypertension can lead to stroke and heart attack.
Treatment of hypertension
The most common hypertension medication is beta blockers, which cause the heart to beat slower thereby reducing its tendency to overwork. It also opens up the blood vessels thereby decreasing build up pressure. Thiazide diuretics are also given to eliminate sodium and water from the system thereby reducing the blood volume in the blood vessels. Other medications include vasodilators, rennin inhibitors, calcium channel, ACE, alpha, and alpha-beta blockers.
To prevent hypertension, doctors will always advise people to lower the risk factors of hypertension such as obesity, smoking, alcohol, and stress. The importance of regular exercise and eating low cholesterol and high fiber diet can't be stressed enough to lower the chances of developing hypertension. Managing stress by doing relaxation and breathing exercise such as yoga is also important. People with history of hypertension must stop smoking because smoking can cause hardening of the arteries. Arteries need to retain their elasticity to regulate blood pressure better. It's also best to avoid processed foods high in preservatives, trans-fat, and sodium. And older people are advised to have their blood pressure checked regularly to catch early signs of high blood pressure.