What Is Hypertension?
Hypertension, also commonly known as high blood pressure, is a condition where the blood flowing through the arteries flows under great physical stress. Due to some blockage, the blood pushes with great force against the arterial walls as it passes through. Such a condition, if it exists for a long period of time, then it can lead to severe health issues such as cardiovascular problems.
Our blood does not flow through the arteries at constant pressure. This keeps on changing. When we are sleeping, for instance, the blood pressure falls down to a lower level. However, when engaged in physically demanding activities such as jogging, running, swimming, and even sexual activity, our blood pressure rises. It also rises when we are under emotional stress or are frightened. Such momentary rise of blood pressure does not do any harm. But, in people with hypertension issues, the blood pressure is high even under normal circumstances. This must be brought under control to prevent future degradation.
Hypertension can be asymptomatic. People might have high blood pressure for years without knowing they have it. But even if it is asymptomatic, it can continue to damage the organs without the person’s knowledge, and this kind of degradation can be irreparable.
There is no specific treatment for high blood pressure because it is not really a disease. It is a condition that most people will suffer from if they don’t have it already. The only thing that can be done with it is to control it. With a healthier lifestyle and some restrictions, blood pressure can be brought down to healthier levels.
What Are the Different Kinds of Hypertension?
Hypertension can be asymptomatic. In such cases, it is called as primary or essential hypertension. It is called essential because it happens in everyone and cannot be avoided. Such hypertension builds up slowly over a period of years as the person ages.
The other kind of hypertension is secondary or non-essential hypertension. This form of high blood pressure is brought on by some underlying disease or condition. It does not develop over the years, but is rather brought on suddenly and without any advance warning.
Some of the medical issues that can bring on such hypertension include kidney problems such as tumors, problems of the thyroid gland, congenital cardiovascular defects, obstructive sleep apnea, etc. Excessive use of drugs and alcohol can also bring on secondary hypertension.
What Are the Symptoms of Hypertension?
Asymptomatic hypertension has no symptoms. However, in cases of secondary hypertension, the following symptoms might be observed:-
- There might be shortness or difficulty in breathing.
- There might be frequent headaches.
- In very rare cases, people might suffer from nosebleeds.
What Are the Risk Factors for Hypertension?
Some people have a higher risk of suffering from hypertension than others. The following is a list of the risk factors.
- Age: The chances of developing hypertension increase as you age. Men over 45 years are especially at risk.
- Gender: Women have a much lesser chance of developing high blood pressure than men. Even the average age of developing high blood pressure for women is higher, at 65 years.
- Genetic Factors: Hypertension runs in families. If you have a family history of people suffering from this condition, you are at a higher risk.
- Body Mass: People who have a higher body mass index are more vulnerable to developing hypertension. Higher body mass also indicates the deposition of cholesterol in the inner lining of the arterial walls. This effectively reduces the space for the blood to flow through them, and increases the pressure with which blood flows in them.
- Smoking: Smokers have a much higher chance of suffering from hypertension than nonsmokers. Even passive smokers, i.e. people who inhale secondhand smoke regularly, are at a greater risk.
- Lifestyle: People who lead a sedentary life show high blood pressure more often than those who lead a physically active lifestyle.
- Sodium/Potassium Balance: This is much spoken about. If your diet is high in sodium salts and low in potassium, then you are at a high risk for developing hypertension. You should do the opposite. Increase the potassium content and reduce sodium.
- Alcoholics: Men who have more than two drinks a day and women who have more than one drink a day are at high risk for high blood pressure. Alcohol can be had, but in moderation.
- Stress: People who have a lot of mental and emotional pressure are susceptible to developing high blood pressure conditions.
- Certain Diseases: Conditions like kidney tumors, sleep apnea, diabetes, etc. can increase your blood pressure.
Why Is Hypertension Dangerous?
Hypertension can wreak havoc with a person’s health if it is not regulated soon. The following complications can arise:-
- If left unchecked, high blood pressure can cause a myocardial infarction or a brain stroke.
- It can cause reduction of the senses, especially eye vision. This happens because the blood flowing under high pressure through the delicate blood vessels to these organs can damage the organ itself.
- It can lead to impairment of the brain’s vital functions, including the retention of memory.
- It can cause an aneurysm. This happens when the arteries bulge due to the excessively forceful blood flowing through them. An aneurysm can be fatal if it ruptures.
Apart from this, it can cause several metabolic disorders that can give rise to life-threatening complications.
Leading a Healthy Lifestyle
Remember that hypertension cannot really be cured, but it can be controlled. The following things help:-
- Engage in a healthy amount of physical activity every day.
- Do not smoke and limit your consumption of alcohol.
- Keep away from oily and spicy foods and foods that are difficult to digest.
- Devote your time in activities that can help you focus and enhance your mind concentration. Yoga could be a good solution for people looking at bringing down their blood pressure.
Keep your mind free of stress. Do things you like as much as you can. Spend time with family and friends rather than just your workplace.