High blood pressure (Hypertension)

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure occurs when your blood pressure increases above the expected healthy level. When blood is pumped from the heart through the arteries and veins, normally, their elastic walls allows for expansion and therefore they are able to maintain the blood pressure within a healthy range. In high blood pressure, however, the arteries and veins are no longer elastic causing the pressure in them to rise.

What causes high blood pressure?

For the majority of people, high blood pressure develops over time and there is usually no specific cause for it.

However in some people, especially in young people that develop high blood pressure, there may be an underlying cause. These causes may include:

Kidney problems

Hormone problems

Excessive alcohol use

Heart defects

Can I prevent high blood pressure?

High blood pressure cannot always be prevented, however with certain measures, you can reduce the risk of developing the condition or reduce the possibility of developing complications. These measures are highlighted below.

Eat healthy all the time

This involves eating balanced diet which includes fruits and vegetables, reducing the amount of salt in food and also limiting the amount of sugars and fat in the diet.

Exercise regularly

Doing regular exercise helps the body to regulate the blood pressure. This doesn’t have to be anything strenuous. Thirty minutes of walking daily is a very good way of keeping yourself active.

Stop smoking and reduce alcohol intake

Smoking has very many adverse effects on the health and stopping smoking is one of the most significant steps anyone could take to improve their health. The same can also be said about alcohol intake.

Lose weight

If you are overweight or obese, you are at high risk of developing high blood pressure or its complications. Eating healthy and exercising are beneficial in helping to lose weight.

To learn about the other benefits of losing weight click here.

What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?

Most people don’t experience any symptom with high blood pressure. However, when it becomes severe, it can cause symptoms and lead to complications such as strokes, heart attack, kidney problems and eye problems.

Some of the symptoms people can experience include:

Headaches

Dizziness

Nose bleeds

Visual problems

Why is high blood pressure a problem?

High blood pressure, if left uncontrolled, leads to complications such as heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure or visual loss. These conditions are potentially life-threatening, causing death or disability.

How is high blood pressure diagnosed?

High blood pressure is diagnosed when the blood pressure reading is higher than expected. This measurement is usually done with a blood pressure machine which is found in most doctor’s offices or at the pharmacy. You can also buy a personal blood pressure machine. Blood pressure is said to be high if the reading is above 130/80 mmHg. There are however different stages of high blood pressure and the treatment with depend on what stage of high blood pressure you have.

How is high blood pressure treated?

If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you doctor is likely to conduct a few tests such as blood tests to check your kidney function, blood count and cholesterol level. They may also check your urine and do a test of your heart called ECG.

The purpose of these checks is to make sure there are no complications of high blood pressure already present.

After these tests, your doctor may recommend you to take medication in order to control your blood pressure. For most people, these medication are used indefinitely.

To ensure your blood pressure is under control, you will need to monitor it regularly and attend follow-up with your doctor. You can get yourself a blood pressure machine with which you can measure your blood pressure at home.

What other things can I do to control my blood pressure?

Lifestyle changes, such as healthy diet and exercise, discussed above can help in ensuring that your blood pressure is well controlled.