High Blood Pressure—A Silent Killer

October 17, 2017

What is High Blood Pressure?

In itself and as a one-off event, high blood pressure doesn’t automatically have to be dangerous. BUT, if the blood pressure is elevated for the extended period of time, this puts extra pressure on the blood vessels and can over time result in heart attack or stroke.

OK, now that we have your full attention, let’s look first into what blood pressure is, and then learn a useful thing or two about what causes high blood pressure and what we can do about it.

Blood pressure is basically a force that pushes blood against the blood vessels. The blood pressure has two components—systolic (normal value 120 mmHg), and diastolic (normal value 80 mmHg), where the first, systolic element, represents the highest level of blood pressure when the heart beats, and the latter, diastolic component, is a value blood pressure reaches when the heart is at rest.

Constantly elevated value of blood pressure is called high blood pressure or hypertension, and to qualify for this diagnosis, a person’s blood pressure has to be at least 140 over 90, which brings us to the beginning of this article – heart attack or stroke.

Causes of High Blood Pressure

According to the cause, high blood pressure can be divided into two categories — primary or essential hypertension, and secondary hypertension where the condition is basically a symptom of some other underlying illness.

  1. For more than 95% of people who suffer from hypertension in the US, the cause cannot be determined. This condition is referred to as essential or primary hypertension.

Despite its unknown origins, certain facts have been scientifically proven. For instance, people whose family members have suffered from this disease are more likely to suffer from the same problem. As Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns, inherited blood pressure might be severe when combined with unhealthy lifestyle. Additionally, as we get older, the effects of our unhealthy life choices accumulate in our body, which can result in hypertension.

  1. Some of the most common causes of secondary hypertension are:
  • Genetic factors
  • Eating too much salt
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Not enough physical activity
  • Ethnic origin
  • Age
  • Other medical conditions such as kidney disease
  • Adrenal or thyroid disease
  • Stress
  • Family history of high blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea
  • Insufficient intake of potassium, magnesium, or calcium
  • Pregnancy
  • Birth control pills
  • Certain medications that constrict blood vessels
  • Drug use (cocaine or amphetamine)

What are the Symptoms of High Blood Pressure?

Despite the common belief, high blood pressure doesn’t show almost any symptoms, which is actually the reason why it is called “a silent killer”.

Signs that might indicate a high blood pressure include these relatively mild sensations:

  • Dizziness
  • Facial flushing
  • Tinnitus
  • Blood spots in the eyes

Hypertension will cause a headache or a nosebleed only in a case of hypertension crisis when the blood pressure reaches the value of 180 over 110.

If you experience these symptoms, immediately contact your doctor because it is considered a medical emergency!

What are the Consequences of High Blood Pressure?

Some of the major conditions caused by hypertension can also result in a fatal outcome, and these are heart failure, heart attack, and stroke.

Other health problems caused by hypertension include:

  • Vision loss
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Memory impairment
  • Kidney disease
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Arrhythmia

Chronic hypertension can also cause damage to your blood vessels. This condition can make cholesterol accumulate in the arteries which constrict them even more and which can ultimately impair the blood circulation significantly, leading again to — heart attack or stroke. The scariest part of this lies in the fact that a person affected is not aware of his or her condition until the severe damage!

Is High Blood Pressure Treatable?

Given all the facts, it is understandable why blood pressure control is essential in preventing heart disease, heart attack, and even stroke. The higher the blood pressure, the higher is the risk of developing severe or even life-threatening health problems!

So, those who deal with hypertension on a daily basis, probably already have a blood pressure monitor, which they can combine with blood pressure calculator. This tool helps to determine whether the blood pressure is low, normal or high. The important thing to note is that when it comes to hypertension, self-medication is not an option. Your doctor will probably advise you to make specific lifestyle changes. Additionally, they might prescribe a blood pressure medication.

What Can You do?

You can actually do a lot and that’s a comforting thought! First and foremost, listen to your doctor and increase your physical activities and change your diet according to his advice. It is essential to limit your daily intake of salt and greasy food; however, feel free to increase your fruits and vegetables intake. When it comes to cutting down – this pertains to alcohol and cigarettes in any shape, size and/or form, and stress.

Summary

High blood pressure or hypertension can be separated into two categories according to whether we know what causes it or not. The cause of primary or essential hypertension is unknown, while some of the leading causes of secondary hypertension are quite diverse and they include age, eating too much salt, smoking, drinking alcohol, birth control pills, certain medications, stimulative drugs (cocaine and amphetamines), obesity, etc.

The reason why high blood pressure is so often referred to as “silent killer” is because in most cases it doesn’t show any dramatic signs or symptoms. In some cases, when the blood pressure is higher than 180 over 110 its can cause a headache and nosebleeds, and in these situations immediately seek medical help.

You can still lead a full and meaningful life even if you are diagnosed with hypertension! These three things will make sure of that – you have to make certain lifestyle changes, start taking the prescribed medications, and go to regular check-ups.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *