Blood pressure that is usually high can cause many health problems, including constant strain on the heart, damaging the artery walls, hence making them prone to hemorrhage and clogging. This results in various issues in the organs that the arteries are supplying, leading to possibly fatal health disorders, such as stroke, kidney disease and heart disease.
Hypertension has been defined as a persistently high blood pressure equal or greater to 140/90 mmHg. It must also be stated that blood pressures do vary among individuals given the fact that we all have our own unique physiology. While it does not have its own symptoms, its damaging effects can encompass numerous systems of the human body.
Hypertension is undeniably the leading factor of heart disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, and heart failure. Without obvious symptoms, and with the kind of damage it does to the body, it has been frequently referred to as the silent killer’.
Types of Hypertension
There are five types of hypertension as follows:
There is no hidden cause of this type; however, it is believed that this results from genetic predisposition along with the combined lifestyle effects, such as physical inactivity and salt intake.
Secondary hypertension is usually a result of an underlying condition. In most cases, this is due to chronic kidney disease or a side effect of medicines.
This refers to a rapidly increasing blood pressure that tends to threaten organ damage and requires emergency treatment.
Normally occurs in pregnant women, returning to normal levels after childbirth.
This occurs when a person visits a doctor/nurse, and their blood pressure increases. However, it is normal at other times.
Risk Factors for Hypertension
The risk factors for developing high blood pressure can be divided into two categories: modifiable and unmodifiable.
- Excessive salt
- Overweight and obesity
- Excessive alcohol
- Physical inactivity
- Age and gender
Effects of Hypertension
There are typically no symptoms of hypertension; however, it can lead to a number of fatal conditions in a silent manner, including:
- Heart disease
- Heart failure
- Aortic aneurysm
- Retinal disease
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Chronic kidney disease
Preventing High Blood Pressure
Healthcare professionals are increasingly favoring and recommending a change in lifestyle of individuals to prevent or reverse high blood pressure. In some instances, medication may be necessary in order to control it. Personally, I usually encourage the following changes in the lifestyle of the affected individuals:
- Reduction in salt intake
- Increase in intake of fruits and vegetables
- Increase in physical activity
- Reduction in alcohol intake
- Controlling weight
Eating Guidelines to Control Blood Pressure
The primary aim of individuals willing to lower their blood pressure levels should be to reduce the intake of salt. Caffeine and alcohol have been known to cause a rapid surge in blood pressure levels, thus it is recommended to limit their intake.
A balanced diet comprising of fruits and vegetables, nuts, and whole grains along with regular physical activity can successfully bring down the blood pressure by as much as 10 or 12 mmHg.
Nesly Clerge, DC, NRCME
DOT Medical Examiner