Hypertension

Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Learn about hypertension and its relation to stroke:

What causes hypertension ?

Who is at risk to develop hypertension ?

What is considered a normal blood pressure ?

Why is it important to treat high blood pressure ?

What are the goals of using anti-hypertensive medications ?

What is needed to protect against hypertension and its brain and heart consequences ?

Can blood pressure be controlled without the use of medications ?

Is it important to have an ideal weight ?

Is diet needed to control blood pressure ?

Do I need to cut down on use of salt in my diet ?

Do I need to reduce my fat intake to have a better blood pressure ?

Is smoking related to hypertension ?

Is anxiety related to hypertension ?

Would exercise improve my blood pressure ?

When do I need to take medications to control my blood pressure ?

What are the side effects of anti-hypertensive medications ?

How about if I need to take more than one medication ?

What do I need to know about anti-hypertensive medications ?

Living with hypertension

 

What causes hypertension ?

Unfortunately, the exact cause of hypertension is not well known in 90% of cases (essential hypertension). However, most of these case can be treated effectively. The known causes of hypertension (secondary hypertension) are listed below:

Hereditary or congenital causes

Drug induced

Diseases of endocrine glands

Kidney diseases

Inflammation of blood vessels

 

Who is at risk to develop hypertension ?

Anyone is at risk to develop hypertension, but there are certain factors that increase this risk. The factors are:

  1. Family history of hypertension:

Some families have the tendency to have hypertensive members. The chance of an offspring to develop hypertension if parents are hypertensive is 50%.

  1. Age:

Although hypertension is more common in elderly, it still can affect the young. Around 50% of people above the age of 65 years are hypertensives.

  1. Gender:

Before the age of 50 years, men are more affected with hypertension, but above the age of 65 years, women are affected more.

  1. Weight:

The chance of developing hypertension is higher in people with over weight. The reduction of weight is known to reduce a high blood pressure.

  1. Use of salt:

Although salt (sodium chloride) has an important role in the regulation of blood pressure, its role in hypertension is not well clear. However, it is known that people who has tendency to develop hypertension, salt can accelerate its appearance. Also, the use of extra salt in food would elevate blood pressure more in hypertensive patients.

  1. Anxiety:

The relation of anxiety and hypertension is not well identified, however, there are few studies that suggested a link between hypertension and anxiety.

  1. Other factors:

There are other risk factors which can be linked to hypertension and they include lack of exercise, alcohol abuse, diabetes and smoking.

What is considered a normal blood pressure ?

The blood pressure is a net result of cardiac out put blood volume in one minute and the distant resistance of blood vessel wall. The reading of blood pressure consist from the systolic blood pressure (pressure measured when the heart contracts), which it is the higher reading, and the diastolic pressure (pressure measured when heart relaxes), which is the lower reading. Most physicians agree that a blood pressure of 120/80 mmHg is considered ideal for adults. Hypertension is considered when there is a persistent elevation of blood pressure beyond 140/85 mmHg.

Why is it important to treat high blood pressure ?

Although a hypertensive patient feels no symptoms , the most important reason to treat high blood pressure is to prevent its serious sequences. It is possible a hypertensive patient remains symptom free for many years, but a slowly progressive harm would affect certain body organs. It is also known that hypertensive patients live less than non-hypertensives. People with hypertension carry a high risk for developing stroke,  myocardial infarction (heart attack) and kidney failure during their life course.

What are the goals of using anti-hypertensive medications ?

The most important goal of treating high blood pressure is to prevent risk of organ damage, and to reduce the impact of coexisting other risk factors. There are two kinds of risk factors, those which can not be modified, like male sex, diabetes and old age, and those which are modifiable, like smoking, dyslipidemia, obesity and anxiety.

It is important to recognize those risk factors, as if coexist, the risk for stroke increases.

What is needed to protect against hypertension and its brain and heart consequences ?

You need to know that hypertension is a disease with no symptoms, but you are at risk for cerebrovascular diseases if the high blood pressure, even if mild, not lowered. You should periodically chick your pressure and follow your physician advise.

Can blood pressure be controlled without the use of medications ?

Spontaneous drop in blood pressure can happen with reduction of weight and salt intake. Exercise also help in reducing high blood pressure as well. If your blood pressure is mildly elevated, following the above simple measures would help and allow for no drug use, the use of mall doses of medications..

Is it important to have an ideal weight ?

It is important to maintain an ideal weight. If you have over weight, you should follow a weight reducing diet under supervision of a specialist. Reducing weight is associated with blood pressure reduction.  

Is diet needed to control blood pressure ?

Bad eating habits are important in gaining weight and usually those habits are difficult to control, unless following a dietician advise, such as:

  • Advise on how to change your habits

  • How to put a time table for diet

  • What are the kind of food you should avoid

  • How to plan your food intake and make it delicious

Do I need to cut down on use of salt in my diet ?

Reducing salt intake is effective in reducing blood pressure. The following directions help in showing how to do it:

  • Eat freshly cooked meet and vegetables and not canned food.

  • Avoid high salt canned food.

  • Add little salt to your food

  • Avoid spicy and salty food, like sausage

Do I need to reduce my fat intake to have a better blood pressure ?

Fat containing food is a source of energy, but it should be controlled, as excess of fat in food leads to obesity and increased levels of cholesterol in the blood. Elevated cholesterol in the blood is harmful and leads to atherosclerosis (increased deposition of cholesterol on arterial wall), which is a risk for a higher blood pressure. There are kinds of fat, those are:

  • Saturated fat (in meat, butter and some other plant oils), which are high in cholesterol content.

  • Non-saturated fat (in olive oil and fish oil), and these help in reducing cholesterol in the blood.

  Is smoking related to hypertension ?

Smoking causes arteriosclerosis (hardening of vessel wall) and stenosis, and thus high blood pressure. Stopping smoking will lead to recovery of these vessels in few months.

Is anxiety related to hypertension ?

If you could control your anxiety, high blood pressure is easier to be lowered. You should learn how relax and not to let your emotions on the loose.

Would exercise improve my blood pressure

People who does not do regular exercises are at higher risk for cardiac and cerebrovascular diseases. Regular exercise leads to the following:

  • Improvement of heart function and blood circulation.

  • Lowering of blood cholesterol.

  • Maintenance of ideal weight.

  • Improvement of the psychological status and lowers anxiety.

When do I need to take medications to control my blood pressure ?

Certain drugs are needed to be taken to control high blood pressure, when all other measures mentioned above fail. Current data suggest the use of these drugs will lead to protection against myocardial infarction, stroke and peripheral atherosclerosis. Those medications should be taken under physician supervision. If you are to take medications for high blood pressure, you should be compliant with the treatment.

 

What are the side effects of anti-hypertensive medications ?

Some of high blood pressure medications have few side effects, but most are tolerable by users. If you experience a side effect, you should consult your physician and do not stop treatment your self.

 

How about if I need to take more than one medication ?

If you are hypertensive and on treatment, you should chick your blood pressure periodically, as you might need to be on more than one medication. Let your physician decide which additional treatment to take.

What do I need to know about anti-hypertensive medications ?

If you are on any blood pressure lowering agents, you should know:

  • drug name, doses and frequency

  • drug side effects and what you should do when develop them

  • drug interaction

Living with hypertension

People with hypertension should understand that the most important factor is the false feeling of well being. High blood pressure gives no symptoms and this might lead to laziness in taking the treatment regularly. It is important to know that the benefits of the medication is far beyond its side effects. Not taking the treatment might lead to serious complications.