Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a condition where the blood pressure in the walls of the arteries is too high. This can lead to serious health issues such as coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and kidney failure if left untreated. Anyone can develop hypertension, and it is the most common cardiovascular disease. Many cases go unnoticed due to a lack of symptoms or warning signs.
Hypertension can have many causes. Some of the most commons risk factors include:
Risk factors for hypertension include age, race/ethnicity, and family history & these are factors that cannot be controlled. Factors that can be controlled include medication, habits such as alcohol consumption, a high sodium diet, lack of physical activity, obesity and smoking, and health conditions such as chronic kidney disease, adrenal and thyroid disorders, and high stress levels.
If you have elevated blood pressure, it means that your systolic blood pressure is between 120-129 and your diastolic blood pressure is less than 80 mmHg. This is not considered an emergency, but it does indicate that you are at a higher risk for developing hypertension in the future. Additionally, it’s important to note that the risk of heart attack and stroke increases with every 20-point increase in systolic blood pressure or every 10-point increase in diastolic blood pressure for adults between the ages of 40-70, starting from a reading of 115/75.
Hypertension is diagnosed by measuring the systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The systolic pressure is a measure of the force on the blood vessels, and the diastolic pressure is a measure of the pressure in the arteries.
Treatment options for hypertension include medication and lifestyle changes. It is important to discuss any medication you are currently taking with your doctor, and make changes to reduce risk factors such as alcohol consumption, a high sodium diet, lack of physical activity, obesity, and smoking. Treating other health problems that increase the risk of hypertension, such as chronic kidney disease, adrenal disorders, and thyroid disorders, can also help.
To prevent and control hypertension, it is important to understand your risk factors and what you can or cannot control.
Factors YOU CAN control include:
If left untreated, hypertension can lead to a condition called malignant hypertension, which can harden the arteries and lead to serious complications such as aneurysms, hemorrhagic stroke, and heart attacks.
Increased sodium intake can lead to increased blood pressure, but this can be reversed by decreasing intake. Increased weight is also a major cause of hypertension, and maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best ways to prevent and treat hypertension.