What is Hypertension?
Hypertension, also known as, High Blood Pressure (HBP), is a serious medical condition. It happens when the force of the blood pumping through your arteries is too strong. When your heart beats, it pushes blood through your arteries to the rest of your body. When the blood pushes harder against the walls of your arteries, your blood pressure goes up. Your blood pressure may be different at different times of the day. It is usually higher when you first wake up, after you exercise, or when you are under stress.
Having higher blood pressure for short amounts of time is normal. However, when your blood pressure stays high for most of the time, it can cause serious health problems. You can monitor your blood pressure by using a monitor at home and by consulting your doctor. Normal resting reading in an adult is approximately 120/80 mm HG.
HBP can be life threatening if left uncontrolled or undetected. It can lead to Heart Failure, Stroke, Heart Attack, Kidney disease or failure, Vision loss, Sexual dysfunction, Angina or Peripheral artery disease. These conditions are very serious and must be treated. Knowing the signs and symptoms can help determine when to contact your doctor.
What are the top noted signs and symptoms of hypertension?
- Headache on the back of your head that is very discomforting.
- Weakness that is abnormal.
- Nervousness that could be mental and physical restlessness.
- Dizziness accompanied by tension or anxiety.
- Ringing in the ears or a buzzing sound that occurs frequently.
- Loss of sleep called insomnia because of the involvement of the brain.
- Nose bleeds caused from the small vessels in the nose rupturing due to raised pressure.
- Shortness of breath, feeling as if your breathing is going to cease.
- Chest pains especially on the left chest wall or around the shoulder or neck that is provoked by physical exertion as the heart muscles are deprived of blood and oxygen supply.
- Fainting or a feeling of objects moving around you.
- Changes in vision as a result of changes in the capillary blood vessels in the eyes.
What causes hypertension?
- Family history
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Inactive lifestyle/lack of exercise
- A high salt and/or high fat diet
- High intake of caffeine
- Smoking and stress.
How do you treat hypertension?
- Lose excess weight and watch your waistline- Losing weight is one of the most effective ways, other than medication, for controlling hypertension. Also, carrying too much weight around your waistline can increase your risk for hypertension. Check with your doctor to see what your healthy waist measurement should be.
- Exercising regularly- Regular exercise for at least 30 minutes each day can help lower your blood pressure or help prevent you from getting hypertension if you are pre-hypertensive. Walking, jogging, swimming, cycling and strength training are some of the best exercises in lowering blood pressure. Talk to your doctor to start up an exercise plan.
- Eat Healthy- Eating foods rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products can help lower your blood pressure. Cut back on caffeine.
- Reduce salt intake- the smallest amount of reduction of your salt intake can lower your blood pressure by 2-8 mm Hg. Some people are more sensitive to salt and should lower their intake even more. This includes African Americans, ages over 51, and anyone diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.
- Limit alcohol intake and quit smoking. Quitting smoking helps your blood pressure return to normal.
- Reduce Stress- Chronic stress can be a contributor to HBP. Occasional stress can also be a risk if you often turn to unhealthy food choices, alcohol and even smoking.
- Regular appointments with your doctor can help monitor and treat HBP. You may be prescribed medication if the other options do not lower your blood pressure to a healthy level.
Hypertension is a serious condition and should not be left untreated. Taking your blood pressure on a regular basis and listening to your body can save your life. Pay attention to the signs and symptoms of Hypertension and contact your doctor if any are present.