Each time the heart beats, it pumps blood through the arteries to all the tissues and organs in the body. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the blood vessels. High blood pressure or hypertension is a condition in which the build up of pressure in the arteries is chronically elevated and the heart has to work harder to pump.
This could lead to organ damage and severe illnesses. At The Hypertension Clinic, we aim to normalise the blood pressure and prevent complications.
What causes hypertension?
While the exact causes of high blood pressure are often unknown, several factors that are identified with or contribute towards hypertension include:
- Genetics and a family history of hypertension
- Obesity or being overweight
- Inactive lifestyle
- High levels of salt intake (sodium sensitivity)
- Insufficient calcium, potassium, and magnesium consumption
- Vitamin D deficiency
- High levels of alcohol consumption
- Medicines such as contraceptive pills
- Chronic kidney disease
- Adrenal and thyroid problems or tumours
What are symptoms of hypertension?
Hypertension has been labeled “the silent killer”, as very often a person suffering from it presents no symptoms of the condition. In fact, almost 33% of people are oblivious of their high blood pressure. It is therefore recommended to undergo periodic blood pressure screenings even when no symptoms are present.
Extremely high blood pressure may, however, manifest in the following ways:
- Problems with vision
- Chest pains
- Breathing problems
- Irregular heartbeat
- Blood in the urine
How is hypertension diagnosed?
Hypertension may be diagnosed by a health professional who measures blood pressure with a device called a sphygmomanometer. The systolic and diastolic numbers will be recorded and compared to a chart of values. Normal blood pressure is considered below 120/80, pre-hypertension ranges between 120/80 and 139/89 and high blood pressure is classified above 140/90.
High blood pressure readings may often be a result of increased levels of stress at the time of the exam. The physician will usually undertake to investigate the patient’s lifestyle and family medical history, as well as conduct a physical exam to assess the risk factors.
How is hypertension treated?
Treating hypertension is imperative for reducing the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart failure. The main goal is to lower blood pressure to less than 140/90 - or even lower in those patients suffering with diabetes and chronic kidney diseases.
Treating high blood pressure may involve both medical and lifestyle factors. Quitting smoking, eating a salt reduced diet, losing weight, reducing the alcohol intake and increasing exercise, may not always suffice. In these cases, several classes of drugs would be considered and prescribed, alone or in combination.
Iit is advised to maintain frequent checkups and to take preventive measures to avoid a relapse of hypertension.