Hypertension is a term used to describe high blood pressure, which is the measurement of the force of your artery walls when blood pumps through your heart. Your blood pressure has two readings; the systolic blood pressure and the diastolic blood pressure. For example, 120 over 180 (120/80) is a systolic blood pressure of 120 and diastolic blood pressure of 80. With hypertension, or high blood pressure, one or both of these numbers can be high. Hypertension occurs whenever your blood pressure is 140/90 or more.
Causes of Hypertension
A variety of factors can lead to high blood pressure and hypertension including the amount of water and salt in your body, the health of your nervous system, blood vessels, and kidneys, and the levels of body hormones. As you get older, you are at a higher risk of developing hypertension since your blood vessels get stiffer. Having hypertension includes complications such as heart failure, heart attack, kidney disease, stroke, and death. Risk factors for hypertension include obesity, being African American, stress and anxiety, drinking alcohol excessively, eating a lot of salt, family history of high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking cigarettes. It can also be a secondary condition to chronic kidney disease, pregnancy, medications such as diet pills or birth control pills, renal artery stenosis, hyperparathyroidism, or disorders of the adrenal gland such as Cushing syndrome.
Symptoms of Hypertension
For most people with high blood pressure or hypertension, they won’t experience any symptoms. High blood pressure is often not found until your next doctor visit as part of checking your vials. This means you can develop more serious complications with your kidney and heart and not know it. However some people with hypertension experience signs like changes in your vision, severe headaches, confusion, nausea or vomiting, and nosebleeds; if you have any of these symptoms, get medical attention as soon as possible.
A physical examination including checking your blood pressure is the most basic way to find out if you have hypertension. They will most likely take your blood pressure several times to compare the measurements. If you’re stressed, it can raise your blood pressure, therefore they will wait until you have relaxed and take it again. Your doctor may also perform other tests to check for damage in your eyes, signs of heart disease, or other health complications.
To treat hypertension, your doctor will try to lower your blood pressure. The first step involves prescribing blood pressure medication that should lower your blood pressure. There are also lifestyle changes that can help lower your blood pressure including eating a heart healthy diet, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol intake, limiting the amount of sodium you eat, reducing your stress level, and getting to a regular body weight.