What is high blood pressure?
High blood pressure (HBP) or hypertension (HTN) is one of the common cardiovascular disorders where the pressure of the blood against the artery walls is too high. It is the state of your body in which systolic blood pressure (BP) is 150 mm Hg or more and diastolic blood pressure is 95 mm Hg or more.
Generally, high blood pressure does not cause any signs or symptoms in men and women. But long term high blood pressure is a risk factor for human health that causes stroke, heart failure, coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation, peripheral arterial disease, vision loss, chronic kidney disease, and dementia.
Changing lifestyle and the use of medicine can lower blood pressure and decreases the risk of above heart and kidney problems. The normal level of blood pressure is less than that of 120 mmHg (systolic) and 80 mmHg (diastolic).
Types of hypertension
High blood pressure may be classified into two types,
- primary or essential hypertension
- secondary hypertension
Essential or primary hypertension occurs when you have observed high blood pressure due to a nonspecific lifestyle, genetic problems, and unhealthy foods in your diet. It does not occur due to one distinct cause but happens by to several factors. About 90 to 95 percent of the people in the world face primary hypertension.
In general, primary hypertension caused due to nonspecific lifestyle and genetic problems. The most common factors that increase the risk of primary hypertension are,
- Aging (older aged men and women whose ages are greater than 65 years)
- Excess salt in your daily diet
- Excess body weight
- Smoking, drinking coffee, and drinking alcohol or excess alcoholic beverages
- Vitamin D deficiency
Signs and symptoms
In the early stages, most people do not notice any signs or symptoms of primary hypertension. They usually discover high blood pressure after medical checkups or various types of other health problems. The health problems you may discover during primary hypertension,
- Hematuria or blood observed in your urine.
- Vision problems or blurry vision.
- Chest pain and shortness of breath.
- Dizziness, fatigue, and lightheadedness.
- Blood is observed in your nose.
These signs or symptoms are also observed during other health problems such as anxiety. Therefore, screening is the most common way to know your primary hypertension.
Secondary hypertension is observed when high blood pressure is caused due to known disease or medical conditions. It is a common condition where your blood pressure is greater than the normal range (120/80 mmHg). It is rare. About 5 to 10 percent population in the world faces secondary hypertension.
The testing of secondary hypertension is expensive. Therefore, after strongly suspecting, the doctor can prescribe the test for secondary hypertension. The most common disease or medical conditions that cause secondary hypertension are,
- Kidney disease
- Thyroid problems
- Cushing syndrome
- Oral contraceptive, steroids, estrogen, and sympathomimetics
Can kidney problem cause high blood pressure?
Kidneys can filter the blood in your body and remove wastes and extra water to produce urine. When kidneys’ blood vessels are damaged, they cannot able to remove all wastes and extra fluid from your body. The extra fluid in the blood vessels can raise your BP.
Kidney disease also increases the production of renin (hormone). It leads to produced protein molecules like angiotensin which also raise the BP in your body.
Hyperaldosteronism is a medical condition where your adrenal glands produce too much aldosterone (hormone). Aldosterone regulates calcium levels in the blood. Hence, it may increase the pressure on your blood vessels.
Cushing syndrome is a condition where too much of the hormone cortisol is produced in your body. The hormone cortisol can
regulate the blood pressure in the human body. Therefore, increasing the level of cortisol can cause HBP.
Abnormal functioning of the thyroid gland also causes HBP in men and women.
Acromegaly is a hormonal disorder observed during adulthood. It occurs when your pituitary gland produces too much growth hormone. hypertension is a common problem for acromegaly patients.
Pheochromocytoma is a rare tumor found in adrenal gland tissue. If you have a pheochromocytoma, the tumor overproduces catecholamines, metanephrines, or methoxytyramine which may cause high blood pressure in your body.
Other causes of secondary hypertension
Other causes of secondary hypertension include obesity, sleep apnea, pregnancy, excessive eating of alcoholic beverages, excessive drinking of alcohol, and eating stimulants such as coffee, and cocaine.
The side effects of certain prescribed medicines like birth control pills, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, diet pills, antidepressants, immune system supplements, and decongestants also cause primary and secondary hypertension in your body.
Blood Pressure Levels
It can be measured by two numbers such as systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. The normal level of blood pressure is less than that of 120 mmHg (systolic) and 80 mmHg (diastolic). Hypertension may cause serious health problems such as heart disease, heart attack, stroke, vision loss, etc.
|Normal||Systolic is less than 120 mm Hg and diastolic is less than 80 mm Hg|
|Elevated||Systolic is 120–129 mm Hg and diastolic is less than 80 mm Hg|
|Hypertension||Systolic is 130 mm Hg or higher and diastolic is 80 mm Hg or higher|
High blood pressure symptoms
Most people do not carry any signs or symptoms of Hypertension. Measurement is the most common way to know your high blood pressure.
Some people can face headaches, lightheadedness, vertigo, tinnitus, and altered vision during high blood pressure problems. These symptoms are also observed during other health problems such as anxiety. Therefore, screening is the most common way to know your HBP.
High blood pressure causes
Usually, it is developed unhealthy lifestyle choices and various types of health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, kidney disease, thyroid problems, genetic problems, aging, depression, during pregnancy, etc.
Stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, and vision problems are the most common hypertension complications. Therefore, you can always manage your blood pressure to lower the risk of serious health problems.
Can high blood pressure cause a heart attack?
It is the most common problem with hypertension. It can damage your arteries and decreases the flow of blood and oxygen from the heart to other organs.
Hypertension can block the supply of blood and oxygen to the brain. When brain cells do not get enough oxygen, they can die. Hence it causes brain stroke.
Diabetes and high blood pressure can be increased the chance of developing chronic kidney disease in men and women.
Along with heart and kidney problems, hypertension can also affect your eyesight. It can damage the blood vessels in the retina which can focus images seen in the eye.
High blood pressure treatment
High blood pressure or hypertension may be controlled or treated by changing your lifestyle or taking medicines that can reduce it. The most common lifestyle changes which reduce your BP are,
- By losing your body weight
- Regular physical activity or exercise
- Eating healthy foods in your diet
- Reduce or limit sodium containing food in your diet
- Limit the amount of alcohol which we drink
- Stop smoking habit
- Cut back on caffeine
- Reduce your stress
- Monitor your BP at home.
- Taking medicines after consulting your doctor or medical professional
High blood pressure medicines
The treatment of hypertension and antihypertensive drug therapy has improved remarkably in the last 50 years. Before 1950, less effective and less tolerated antihypertensive drugs are available on the market.
Drugs like veratrum and sodium thiocyanate could lower BP but they are toxic and difficult to use. The ganglion blocker was developed in 1950. They are effective in hypertension treatment but inconvenient to use. Today the most common drugs or medicines used to reduce or treatment of high blood pressure are classified into the following types,
- Diuretics (thiazides, Loop diuretics, potassium sparing diuretics)
- Mixed alpha- and beta-blockers
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)
Most of these drugs can reduce plasma and extracellular fluid volume that decrease cardiac output. Name of the drugs or medicines of the above classes are given below the table,
|Class of medicines||Name of medicine|
|Mixed alpha- and beta-blockers||Labetalol|
|Calcium channel blockers||Verapamil|
|Angiotensin II receptor blockers
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors drugs or medicines are one of the first-choice drugs in all grades of primary or essential and secondary hypertension treatment. Always ask your doctor or medical professional or test your blood pressure before taking the above hypertension medication.