Hypertension, also known as high or elevated blood pressure, is a disorder in which the blood vessels have persistently high pressure, which can damage them. Every time the heart beats, it pumps blood into the vessels, which carry blood to all parts of the body.
It occurs in young, middle-aged adults and seniors. However, hypertension is more frequent at advanced ages and reaches a prevalence that exceeds 60% of people over 60 years of age.
But, what is high blood pressure? As we mentioned before, hypertension is a common long-term condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated.
This condition usually does not cause symptoms, however, is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke, vision loss, peripheral arterial disease, dementia, and chronic kidney disease. High blood pressure generally develops over many years, and it affects nearly everyone. However, it can be detected easily, and once it is noticed, you can work with your doctor to control it.
Causes of high blood pressure
There are two types of hypertension:
Primary hypertension: smoking, diabetes, dyslipidemia, excessive weight, low physical condition, unhealthy diet, psychosocial stress, and sleep apnea.
Secondary hypertension: CKD, renovascular disease, metabolic diseases, obstructive sleep apnea, drug-induced hypertension (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids/androgens, decongestants, caffeine, monoamine oxidase inhibitors), and alcohol-induced hypertension.
In most cases, high blood pressure is an unknown cause. It is probably due to the combination of a series of genetic (hereditary) factors that predispose to high blood pressure, together with environmental factors that favor its development. Among these environmental factors will be:
There are many factors that can affect blood pressure, and also, there are two types of hypertension. It is more likely to find high blood pressure as you get older, due to the blood vessels becoming stiffer as you age. Factors that can affect blood pressure, include:
- Hormone levels
- The portion of water (both low and high), and salt in the body
- Condition of blood vessels, kidneys, and nervous system
- Drink too much alcohol
- Have diabetes
- Family history of high blood pressure
In some cases, there is no cause of blood high pressure found, this is called essential hypertension, the primary type of essential hypertension. The second type of hypertension is caused by underlying conditions.
Treatments of high blood pressure
There are a number of factors that can help to treat high blood pressure, especially the type of hypertension you have and the causes that have been identified.
In the case of noticing essential hypertension, some lifestyle changes may help reduce high blood pressure. If this is not enough, you may need some medication prescribed by your doctor.
In the case of noticing secondary hypertension, the treatment will be focused on another condition, your doctor will change the medication if maybe these ones are affecting your high blood pressure.
Treatments plans for this condition usually evolve, this way, what worked well at first, may become less useful over time.
How to prevent high blood pressure?
It is possible to help your blood pressure in a healthy range. Some prevention ways include:
- Healthy food: a healthy meal and snack can help you avoid high blood pressure and its complications. You must eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. All this must be prescribed by a doctor.
- Exercise: Physical activity can help to maintain a healthy way and lower blood pressure. It is recommended for adults to get at least two hours and a half minutes of moderate-intensity exercise.
- Avoid smoking: smoking raises blood pressure, making it a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Limit alcoholic drinks: men should not have more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day. Women should not have more than 1.
- ● Get enough sleep: sleep is part of keeping the heart blood vessels healthy. Not getting enough sleep is usually linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
The usual impact of each lifestyle change is a 4-5 mm Hg decrease in systolic blood pressure and a 2-4 mm Hg decrease in diastolic blood pressure. But a diet low in sodium, saturated fat, and total fat, and increased fruits, vegetables, and grains can low systolic blood pressure by about 11 mm Hg.
There are different ways to prevent higher blood pressure. In case of noticing any signs or symptoms, be sure to consult a doctor. It could be a big risk to have this condition, however, in case of not notice symptoms, it is a good idea to visit a doctor too, this way you can avoid not only higher blood pressure, other diseases as well.
If high blood pressure is untreated, over time it can lead to health problems, such as heart disease and stroke. Eating a healthy diet with less salt, exercising regularly, and taking medication can all help lower blood pressure.
Thanks to Dr. Zeltzin Mecate Coyote, a general practitioner, who reviewed and verified this article. She is certified in General Medicine by the INTERDISCIPLINARY COLLEGE OF HEALTH PROFESSIONALS A.C. She specializes in General Medicine, Overweight / Obesity / Ketogenic Diet, Diabetes / Hypertension, and the Ketogenic Diet.