Hypertension: The Silent Killer

Hypertension: The Silent Killer

Hypertension: The Silent Killer! The heart pumps blood into the arteries or blood vessels, which carry the blood throughout the body. Blood pressure is the force exerted by the blood against the walls of the blood vessels. High blood pressure, also known as Hypertension, is a common medical condition in which the blood pressure increases to unhealthy levels. It rarely has noticeable symptoms. Long-term high blood pressure can cause damage to your arteries and blood vessels and can lead to severe health problems, including heart attack and stroke.

Measuring Blood pressure:

Blood pressure is most commonly measured in the Brachial artery of the upper arm, using a blood pressure meter. It is expressed using two numbers. The upper number, called systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats (contracts and pumps blood around your body). Moreover, the lower number, called diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests between beats.

If the measurement reads 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, you would say “120 over 80” or write “120/80 mmHg” (The mmHg is millimeters of mercury – the units used to measure blood pressure). Here is a look at the four blood pressure categories for adults:

  • Normal blood pressure: systolic: Less than 120 and diastolic: less than 80
  • Prehypertension: systolic: 120-139 or diastolic: 80-89
  • Stage 1 hypertension: systolic: 140-159 or diastolic: 90-99
  • Stage 2 hypertension: systolic: 160 or higher or diastolic: 100 or higher                        

Risk Factors for Hypertension

It is not always clear what causes high blood pressure, but certain factors may increase your risk:

  • Age: The risk of hypertension increases as you grow older. With age, blood pressure can increase gradually as the arteries become stiffer and narrower due to plaque build-up.
  • Gender: Men are more prone to hypertension at a younger age, while women are more at risk at older ages.
  • Family history: If your parents or other close blood relatives have hypertension, there is an increased chance that you’ll get it too.
  • Being overweight or obese: Carrying too much weight puts an extra strain on your heart and circulatory system, that increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
  • Chronic health conditions: Certain conditions may increase your risk of hypertension, such as high cholesterol, kidney disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea.

Other risk factors include:

  • Lack of physical activity
  • Too much salt in the diet
  • Too little potassium in the diet
  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • High levels of stress
  • Certain medications

Hypertension Types and Causes

There are two types of hypertension. Each type has a different cause.

Primary Hypertension

Primary hypertension is also known as essential hypertension. A majority of people with high blood pressure have primary hypertension. Moreover, this type of hypertension has no identifiable cause and develops gradually over many years. It is not caused by any health condition or disease. Furthermore, a combination of factors may play a role in its development. These include age, gender, family history, and lifestyle-related factors like high salt intake, lack of physical activity, obesity, stress, and smoking.

Secondary Hypertension

For some people, high blood pressure is caused by an underlying condition. Furthermore, this type of high blood pressure is called secondary hypertension. It often occurs suddenly and can become more severe than primary hypertension. Moreover, numerous conditions that cause secondary hypertension include:

  • Kidney disease
  • Adrenal gland tumors
  • Certain endocrine tumors
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Side effects of medications, like birth control pills
  • Alcohol abuse or chronic use

Symptoms and Complications of Hypertension

It may take years for hypertension to reach levels severe enough that symptoms become noticeable. However, even then, these symptoms may be caused by other issues. A few people may experience:

  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Nosebleeds
  • Chest pain

These symptoms don’t occur in everybody with hypertension. In fact, most people with hypertension experience no symptoms, and it is therefore called “The Silent Killer.” Additionally, if undetected, it can, over time, cause damage to the cardiovascular system and internal organs, such as:

  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack
  • Kidney failure
  • Stroke
  • Aneurysm (bulge in the wall of an artery)
  • Eye damage

Ignoring your blood pressure, because you think a certain sign or symptom will alert you to the problem, is taking a dangerous chance with your life. Moreover, the best way to know if you have hypertension is to get your blood pressure checked regularly.

(Read more about Effective Ways to Prevent High Blood Pressure)

(Read more about Recommended Foods to Avoid High Blood Pressure)

Disclaimer: All material on Hidoc.co is provided for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a substitute for professional medical or health advice. Always seek the advice of your physician for any questions regarding your symptoms or medical condition and before taking any home remedies or supplements.