High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Your blood pressure level relates to the pressure in your blood as it is pumped away from the heart. In order to reach other organs, the blood needs to be pumped with an appropriate amount of pressure. If the pressure is too high, however, it can present a number of health risks and you may experience hypertension.

What causes High blood pressure

If your blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or higher, it is considered to be high. For individuals who are over the age of 80 years, however, hypertension may be diagnosed unless their blood pressure reaches 150/90mm Hg.

There are various factors which can cause or contribute to high blood pressure. Whilst there are some genetic features which may make you predisposed to hypertension, there are also a number of lifestyle factors which can cause you to develop high blood pressure. These include:

• Smoking
• Not doing enough exercise
• Eating too much salt
• Obesity
• Not eating enough fruit and/or vegetables
• Drinking too much alcohol
• Experience disturbed sleep
• Not getting enough sleep
• Being under stress
• Drinking too many caffeine-based drinks, including tea and coffee

Although lifestyle choices can make you a high risk for hypertension, there are other traits which may mean you more likely to develop high blood pressure. These include:

• Being over 65 years of age
• Being of Caribbean or African descent
• Being overweight
• Having a relative with high blood pressure

In some cases, high blood pressure may be caused by an underlying medical condition, such as:

• Diabetes
• Pregnancy
• Kidney disease
• Chronic kidney infections
• Glomerulonephritis
• Obstructive sleep apnoea
• Hormone problems, including thyroid disorders
• Scleroderma
• Lupus

As some medications can have the side-effect of causing high blood pressure, it’s possible that your symptoms of high blood pressure may be associated with other medication you are taking. Medicines which are known to increase blood pressure in some patients include:

• Steroids
• NSAIDS, such as ibuprofen
• Some herbal remedies
• Some cough and cold medications
• Contraceptive pill
• Some SSNRIs, such as venlafaxine

High blood pressure symptoms

When you develop high blood pressure, it puts your body under extra stress. As a result, you can suffer from a range of symptoms and health complications. Common symptoms associated with high blood pressure include:

• Pounding in your ears, neck or chest
• Severe headache or head pain
• Confusion or fatigue
• Blurred vision or problems with vision
• Chest pain
• Breathing difficulties
• Shortness of breath
• Blood in your urine
• Irregular heartbeat
• Nosebleeds

Although some people do experience symptoms due to hypertension, many people with high blood pressure do not experience any noticeable symptoms at all. Despite this, hypertension carries significant health risks. As the condition may not cause symptoms, it’s important to have your blood levels checked at regular intervals so that high blood pressure can be treated quickly.

What is high blood pressure and what are the risks?

When blood moves around your body, it needs adequate pressure in order to move through your arteries. If your blood pressure is too high, however, it puts extra strain on your blood vessels and your heart. The kidneys, eyes and brain can also be put under additional strain due to high blood pressure.

Due to this, high blood pressure can increase your risk of developing a number of other health problems, including:

• Angina
• Heart attack
• Stroke
• Heart failure
• Kidney disease
• Vision problems
• Vascular dementia
• Peripheral artery disease

As hypertension can lead to serious, life-threatening health issues, it is important to seek medical advice and treatment straight away.

High blood pressure also has a complicated relationship when it comes to Gout. Many high blood pressure medications increase the uric acid levels in the body. As gout is a conditions that is primarily caused by increased levels of uric acid, high blood pressure can lead to developing gout.

High blood pressure treatment

Depending on how severe your hypertension is, lifestyle changes may be the first line of treatment. As unhealthy habits can be a leading cause of hypertension, a significant number of people are able to reduce their blood pressure naturally by changing their day-to-day activities. Your doctor may advise you to make specific changes to your lifestyle, including:

• Reducing your salt intake
• Doing more exercise
• Losing weight
• Eating fewer fatty foods
• Reducing alcohol consumption
• Giving up smoking
• Drinking fewer caffeine-based drinks
• Eating a healthier diet

If you have severely high blood pressure or your blood pressure is not reduced back down to what is considered normal, you may be prescribed high blood pressure medication. Medicines which are commonly prescribed to treat high blood pressure include:

ACE Inhibitors:

Calcium-channel blockers

Angiotensin-II receptor blockers (ARBs)

  • Candesartan
  • Irbesartan
  • Losartan

Thiazide diuretics

Although beta blockers are no longer a first-line medication for high blood pressure, you may be prescribed them if you are unable to take any of the medications listed above or if they do not provide the desired results.

Whilst treating your hypertension, your doctor will monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis. As well as taking your blood pressure manually, they may request that you wear a blood pressure monitor for 24 hours, so that it can be monitored throughout the course of the day and night. In addition to this, you may be encouraged to monitor your own blood pressure on a daily basis using a blood pressure monitor.

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