World Hypertension Day

By Pharm. Deborah Martins

Blood pressure is the force that a person’s blood exerts against the walls of their blood vessels. This pressure depends on the resistance of the blood vessels and how hard the heart has to work.

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is when the pressure on your blood vessels is too high. This damages your arteries over time and can lead to serious complications like heart attack and stroke.

 

  • Normal

systolic: less than 120 mm Hg

diastolic: less than 80 mm Hg

  • Elevated

systolic: 120–129 mm Hg

diastolic: less than 80 mm Hg

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

systolic: 130 mm Hg or higher

diastolic: 80 mm Hg or higher

 

The systolic number represents the pressure in blood vessels when the heart contracts or beats. The diastolic number represents the pressure in the vessels when the heart rests between beats.

 

CAUSES

High blood pressure that is not due to another condition or disease is known as primary or essential hypertension. If an underlying condition is a cause of increased blood pressure, doctors call this secondary hypertension.

Common causes of primary hypertension include:

  • Obesity
  • High salt intake
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

Common causes of secondary hypertension include:

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Hyperthyroidism

 

RISK FACTORS

Things that increase the risk of having high blood pressure include:

  • older age
  • genetics
  • being overweight or obese
  • not being physically active
  • high-salt diet
  • drinking too much alcohol

 

SYMPTOMS

Healthcare providers call high blood pressure a “silent killer” because you usually don’t have any symptoms. So, you may not be aware that anything is wrong, but the damage is still occurring within your body.

People with very high blood pressure (usually 180/120 or higher) can experience symptoms including:

  • severe headaches
  • chest pain
  • dizziness
  • difficulty breathing
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • blurred vision or other vision changes
  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • buzzing in the ears
  • nosebleeds
  • abnormal heart rhythm

 

DIAGNOSIS

Hypertension is diagnosed if, when it is measured on two different days, the systolic blood pressure readings on both days is ≥140 mmHg and/or the diastolic blood pressure readings on both days is ≥90 mmHg.

 

Blood pressure goal is less than 130/80 if you have other disease conditions like:

  • cardiovascular disease (heart disease or stroke)
  • diabetes (high blood sugar)
  • chronic kidney disease
  • high risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Lifestyle changes can help lower high blood pressure.

 

TREATMENT

High blood pressure treatments include lifestyle changes and medications. Healthcare providers recommend treatment based on your blood pressure readings, the causes of your high blood pressure and your underlying conditions.

Lifestyle changes include:

  • eating a healthy, low-salt diet
  • losing weight
  • being physically active
  • quitting tobacco.

There are several common blood pressure medicines:

  • ACE inhibitors including enalapril and lisinopril relax blood vessels and prevent kidney damage.
  • Angiotensin-2 receptor blockers (ARBs) including losartan and telmisartan relax blood vessels and prevent kidney damage.
  • Calcium channel blockers including amlodipine and felodipine relax blood vessels.
  • Diuretics including hydrochlorothiazide and chlorthalidone eliminate extra water from the body, lowering blood pressure.

 

COMPLICATIONS

Untreated hypertension may lead to serious health problems including:

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD).
  • Heart attack.
  • Peripheral artery disease.
  • Kidney disease and kidney failure.
  • Complications during pregnancy.
  • Eye damage.
  • Vascular dementia

 

Blood Pressure Measurement Tips

  • Take multiple readings to ensure accuracy
  • Sit quietly before and during monitoring
  • Place the cuff on bare skin, not over clothing

Summary

High blood pressure is a potentially dangerous condition that often has no symptoms but can lead to a heart attack, stroke, and other life threatening conditions. Blood pressure screenings have been made easily accessible and can be monitored at home with the use of automated blood pressure machines.

We offer free blood pressure checks at any of the Amela pharmacy branches. Walk in and check your BP today.


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