Hypertension is one of the most prevalent cardiovascular diseases and is also known as high blood pressure. If you imagine your heart to be a car, it runs smoothly only when the tires have the right amount of air – too much air could make the tire burst; too little and the car could break down. Blood pressure is a similar force exerted by blood as it flows through your body.
Irregularity in BP could lead to many severe conditions like stroke, kidney failure, heart failure, and vision problems. According to many leading medical institutions, the average blood pressure is 120/80. Anything over this limit is to be monitored.
Types of High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is of two kinds – Systolic and Diastolic blood pressure.
Systolic BP is the pressure of blood on the artery walls when the heart is beating. Diastolic BP is the pressure of the blood when the heart rests between two beats. Systolic BP is the upper limit, and diastolic BP is the lower limit. In a regular BP reading, 120 is systolic, and 80 is diastolic.
Other than underlying health conditions, blood pressure fluctuations are noted in a few circumstances. When getting your blood pressure checked, if you are tense, or have consumed too much sugar or caffeine, or have done some physical activity – the BP shows an irregular reading. Therefore, it is always suggested by healthcare professionals to remain calm when blood pressure is taken.
What Is Prehypertension?
In your blood pressure reading, if your systolic BP ranges from 120 to 139 and diastolic BP ranges from 80 to 89, you could have prehypertension. Also known as stage 1 hypertension, it is an indication that you might get hypertension in the future.
Medical professionals recommend a change in lifestyle to get this reading back to normal. Prehypertension needs to be monitored regularly as having this condition for long also increases the risk of heart failure, kidney failure, or stroke.
Causes of Hypertension
Although there is no absolute cause known for hypertension, studies reveal the following to be the most common underlying reasons.
- Smoking and drinking
- Irregular sleep cycles
- Lack of physical activity
- Old age
- Thyroid Problems
Most of these are because of indulging in an unhealthy lifestyle. Making a few changes to live healthier can make a huge difference in being healthy and avoiding hypertension.
Hypertension in Women
For women, the risk of hypertension could manifest due to different reasons. Pregnancy and menopause, which include the stress of changing hormones, could lead to hypertension. An additional reason for women to develop high blood pressure is due to the consumption of birth control medicines.
During pregnancy, high blood pressure is monitored to make sure that it doesn’t lead to preeclampsia – a dangerous condition that could lead to convulsions and even a coma.
Symptoms of Hypertension
The following symptoms are considered when diagnosing hypertension, but everyone is different, and so these symptoms may not show up in some people, in spite of having high blood pressure. Thus, the most effective way to rule out high BP is by getting yourself checked regularly.
A few of the warning signs for hypertension include,
- Palpitations of the heart
- Difficulty in breathing
- Blurred vision
A doctor needs to be contacted once these symptoms are recognized.
Digital machines that check blood pressure are available at economical rates. If you are diagnosed with hypertension, it is essential to get yourself checked at regular intervals – it can even be done from the comfort of your home. If there are any discrepancies in the readings, your doctor should be contacted immediately.
How Can Hypertension Be Cured?
There is no known treatment for hypertension. But it can be managed via certain medications and dietary and lifestyle changes.
The more severe the level of hypertension, the more extensive the medical treatment plan is for high BP. Doctors often prescribe medicine to get your BP levels normalized. The medications are given in low doses so as not to overwhelm the body. Once the levels have come down, lifestyle changes are recommended to manage blood pressure.
- Managing weight – Being overweight increases the risk of high BP. Losing weight is not a one-time activity. It has to be managed so that it remains constant. Eating a balanced meal of carbohydrates, proteins, vegetables, and fruits, along with light exercises, is an excellent way to maintain a healthy weight.
- Physical activity – Being physically active keeps your blood moving around. Doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of light exercises to remain fit. A few light activities that can be included in your daily routine are walking, stretching exercises, and aerobics or dance classes.
- Reducing salt – Salt makes your kidneys hold more water, which in turn raises the blood pressure in your body. Over time, excess pressure will lead to dangerous conditions like kidney failure. Reducing salt intake in your daily diet will go a long way in helping to reduce BP and remaining healthy.
- Reducing stress – Stress is inevitable with high-pressure jobs and demanding deadlines. However, prolonged stress is detrimental and leads to high BP. It needs to be managed effectively. Meditation and yoga are two holistic ways you can use to reduce stress and protect yourself from the damaging effects of stress.
- DASH diet – Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is a diet formulated for people who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. The diet focuses on a meal plan which primarily includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. A plant-based diet is most effective in managing high blood pressure.
The best way to ensure that you are protected from the threats of high blood pressure is to sustain a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Good diet and exercise are not only a necessity for overall health – but they are also great for de-stressing and mental well-being. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure.
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