High blood pressure (hypertension) is a chronic disease characterised by an increase in blood pressure above 140 x 90 mmHg. High blood pressure is also called a silent disease because in most cases it does not cause any symptoms, although some people may experience headaches, visual disturbances or dizziness.
According to Womenshealthmag,blood pressure are a diet high in salt and a lack of regular exercise, but it can also be caused by a health problem such as kidney disease or heart problems.
Treatment always involves dietary measures, such as reducing the amount of salt, but may also involve taking medication for high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is a silent disease that in most cases does not cause any symptoms. For this reason, it is very common for high blood pressure to persist for several years before any symptoms appear.
However, when spikes occur where the blood pressure rises very suddenly, symptoms of hypertension may appear, such as:
Nausea and dizziness;
Ringing in the ear;
Changes in vision;
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to make an appointment with your GP to check for the possibility of high blood pressure and to start appropriate treatment. In addition, there are some measures you can take during a hypertension episode to help regulate your blood pressure, such as trying to relax or taking blood pressure medication as prescribed by your doctor.
High blood pressure is best detected by taking regular blood pressure readings to determine when the reading is above 140 x 90 mmHg. So a good strategy would be to go for check-ups 2 to 3 times a year, e.g. to the family doctor.
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What causes high blood pressure?
High blood pressure rises whenever there is a change that makes it difficult for blood to circulate in the blood vessels and increases the pressure that the coronary arteries have to put on to keep the blood circulating properly.
So depending on the type of hypertension, there are different causes:
Primary hypertension is a condition that occurs over a long period of time without being related to a health problem or the use of a specific drug, and whose cause is therefore more difficult to determine.
This is the most common form of hypertension and is usually related to factors such as the following:
Genetic factors: Some individuals and families have a greater tendency to have high arterial pressure;
Poor diet: An unhealthy diet, such as an increased intake of salt, sugar and chips, can lead to changes that increase arterial pressure;
Lack of exercise: Exercise is important to maintain coronary artery function and regulate arterial pressure.
In addition, age can also lead to an increase in arterial pressure as the elasticity of the blood vessels decreases. For this reason, hypertension is also more common in older people.
Secondary hypertension is less common, but usually has causes that are easier to recognise, such as:
Use of some medications;
Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages;
When is it normal to have high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is not always bad, nor does it mean that you have high blood pressure. It is normal for blood pressure to rise temporarily in completely healthy people, e.g. during physical exertion, pain, when drinking coffee or in stressful situations.
However, it can be assumed that the pressure will decrease again shortly after these events. If the pressure remains high for several days, or if it occurs very regularly and without any apparent cause, it is important to consult a doctor to see if it really could be high blood pressure.
How to confirm the diagnosis
Since there are several everyday situations that can raise blood pressure without meaning that you have high blood pressure, the diagnosis cannot be made with a single blood pressure measurement.
To confirm the diagnosis, it is therefore important that at least three blood pressure measurements are taken on three different days with an interval of at least one week between each measurement. It is also important that the measurements are taken by a health professional, as it is necessary to know how to measure blood pressure correctly in order to avoid errors in the interpretation of the results.
Some doctors may also ask you to take some measurements at home or at the pharmacy to rule out the possibility that the blood pressure in the doctor's office is elevated due to white coat syndrome.
If high blood pressure is suspected, the doctor may also recommend other tests to help identify a possible cause, such as urine tests, blood tests, electrocardiogram or kidney ultrasound.
How to understand the blood pressure reading
To understand the blood pressure reading, it is necessary to know both readings:
Systolic pressure: This is usually the highest value when measured (e.g. 135 mmHg) and represents the pressure that occurs in the arteries when the heart beats;
Diastolic pressure: This is the lowest value (e.g. 65 mmHg) and represents the pressure on the artery walls between each heartbeat.
After the measurement, the blood pressure is classified below:
The higher the stage of hypertension, the greater the risk of serious complications. People with borderline and stage 1 hypertension can regulate their blood pressure with a few lifestyle changes, while people with stage 2 and 3 hypertension usually need to take medication prescribed by a doctor.
How the treatment should be carried out
Treatment for high blood pressure varies depending on the type of high blood pressure. This is because in secondary hypertension it is very important to identify the cause and initiate targeted treatment to correct the disease or problem underlying the high blood pressure.
Primary hypertension, which is the most common, usually requires lifestyle changes and even medication to directly regulate blood pressure:
1. Medication for high blood pressure
While there are several medications that can lower blood pressure, they are usually only prescribed by a doctor when it is not possible to regulate blood pressure through lifestyle changes alone, such as a better diet and regular exercise. The most commonly used medications in these cases include:
Diuretics, such as furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide or spironolactone;
Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEI), such as captopril, enalapril or ramipril;
Angiotensin receptor antagonists such as losartan, valsartan or telmisartan;
Beta-blockers, such as propranolol, atenolol or carvedilol;
Calcium channel blockers, such as amlodipine, nifedipine or nicardipine;
Vasodilators, such as minoxidil or hydralazine.
These drugs can be used alone or in combination, but should always be accompanied by lifestyle changes to have a better effect on blood pressure.
2. diet for high blood pressure
Diet for high blood pressure is one of the most important measures to lower blood pressure. It is important to eat a healthy and varied diet, low in salt, sugar and fatty foods.
It is therefore important to give preference to fruits, vegetables, cereals and lean proteins, such as white meat and fish.
3. regular exercise
In addition to diet, another indispensable lifestyle change is regular physical activity for at least 30 minutes, 3 to 5 times a week. The most targeted exercises for maintaining vascular health are aerobic exercises such as running, walking, cycling or swimming.
4. natural remedies for high blood pressure
To complement medical treatment, there are also some natural remedies that can regulate blood pressure. Some examples are garlic water, olive leaf tea or valerian tea.
These remedies should always be used with the knowledge of the doctor and under the guidance of a naturopath.
High blood pressure during pregnancy
High blood pressure is a condition that can also occur during pregnancy and must be well controlled to avoid life-threatening complications for the pregnant woman or the child.
One complication that can occur due to the rise in blood pressure during this phase is pre-eclampsia, which is characterised by a constant rise in blood pressure and damage to various organs, especially the kidneys, lungs and liver, and increases the risk of premature birth and miscarriage.
If a woman suspects high blood pressure during pregnancy, she should see her gynaecologist and initiate appropriate treatment, which usually includes taking medication and changing her diet to avoid complications.
Possible complications of hypertension
If high blood pressure is not detected and properly treated, several years can pass during which the pressure remains high and causes small lesions in the vessels and organs of the body. For this reason, there are several serious complications of hypertension, such as:
The increase in blood pressure causes the heart to have to pump harder to move blood around the body. If this is the case for several years in a row, various problems can occur, such as:
In addition, people with uncontrolled high blood pressure have a higher risk of developing aortic aneurysms and even heart attacks.
The increase in blood pressure in the vessels of the brain can cause various lesions in the brain, which can lead to changes such as memory problems, learning difficulties and even speech disorders.
In addition, high blood pressure can cause the brain to receive less oxygen, increasing the risk of ischaemic stroke.
Elevated blood pressure can also damage the delicate blood vessels in the kidneys, increasing the risk of kidney failure.
How to prevent high blood pressure
The best way to prevent high blood pressure is to lead a healthy lifestyle. For this reason, there are some measures that can significantly reduce the risk of high blood pressure:
Eat a healthy, balanced diet that is low in salt;
Avoid excessive body weight;
Exercise regularly, 3 to 5 times a week;
Avoid excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.
It is also important to have regular blood pressure checks, at least two to three times a year, as well as annual check-ups with your doctor to detect diseases that can increase the risk of high blood pressure.
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