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High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

What is High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure or hypertension is a condition of intense pressure of blood against the walls of arteries that can result in serious health problems.

Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood pumped by the heart and the resistance of the body’s arteries. In this case, the narrower the arteries and the more blood gets pumped, the higher the blood pressure will be. In most cases, high blood pressure or hypertension develops over time without the person noticing or experiencing any symptoms that would cause concern.

In America, about 1 out of 3 adults or 31.3% of the entire population is currently experiencing high blood pressure, and the numbers of those developing and being diagnosed with the condition are continually increasing.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

People that experience an intense increase in blood pressure may feel:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty to breathe

What causes High Blood Pressure?

There are actually two kinds of high blood pressure. The first one is called the Primary or Essential Hypertension wherein there is no traceable cause of high blood pressure. This is the type that only gradually develops over the years that is most especially common among the adults.

The second type of high blood pressure is called the Secondary Hypertension. This type is totally different from the first one as it occurs suddenly which causes unpredicted higher blood pressure. The second type has a lot of different causes such as:

  • Intake of illegal drugs
  • Kidney diseases
  • Adrenal gland tumors
  • Congenital defects in blood vessels
  • Medications like pain relievers and birth control pills.

Diagnosis of High Blood Pressure

An inflatable arm cuff and a pressure-measuring gauge are used in order to measure a person’s current blood pressure. Blood pressure measurements are then separated into four categories and these are:

  • Normal blood pressure
  • Pre-hypertension
  • Stage 1 hypertension
  • Stage 2 hypertension

If the doctor suspects that a person has high blood pressure, additional testing may be required before a diagnosis is made. The reason for this is because people tend to have different blood pressure throughout the day. There is also a condition called white-coat hypertension that happens when you visit the doctor which is why sometimes the doctor might just ask you to record your blood pressure at home.

Your doctor might also recommend other types of test for your blood pressure such as:

  • Urinalysis
  • Blood test
  • Electrocardiogram or ECG
  • Cholesterol test

Treatment of High Blood Pressure

There are several medications that your doctor would prescribe to you depending on the stage of high blood pressure that you are in. The following medications are:

  • Thiazide diuretics or water pills
  • Beta blockers
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme or ACE inhibitors
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Renin inhibitors

The combinations of the medications above would normally be effective; however, if you still experience trouble attaining your blood pressure goal, the doctor might then have to prescribe you these:

  • Alpha blockers
  • Alpha-beta blockers
  • Central-acting agents
  • Vasodilators

After such, the doctor may ask you take an aspirin daily in order to control the risk of getting cardiovascular disorders.

Even though a person may have the right medications for their high blood pressure, it will always be essential to change their lifestyle in order to really lower your blood pressure. Eating habits, proper diet, exercising daily, and the like would have to be implemented.

Alternative Treatments for High Blood Pressure

There are a number of alternative treatments that claim to have a positive effect on treating high blood pressure or hypertension These include consumption of:

  • Alpha-linolenic acid or ALA
  • Blond psyllium
  • Calcium
  • Cocoa
  • Cod-liver oil
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Garlic

Before using any of these alternatives, it is important to consult the doctor first because some of these might just cause harmful interactions with the current prescription of medications that you have.

Prevention of High Blood Pressure

Since high blood pressure will happen to almost everyone, it is necessary to learn how to prevent your blood pressure from going way up; you have to learn how to manage it all throughout your life. Keep your blood pressure low by:

  • Taking your prescribed medication properly
  • Visiting your doctor regularly
  • Exercise healthy habits
  • Learn how to manage stress

 

References:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-pressure/DS00100

http://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/faqs.htm

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/high_blood_pressure/page3_em.htm