High Blood Pressure
Introduction to High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is an extremely common condition where increased stress is placed on your blood vessels due to elevated internal pressures.
What is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is an extremely common condition where increased stress is placed on your blood vessels due to elevated internal pressures. High blood pressure can be either primary, where there is no discernible clinical cause, or secondary where it may be due to a hormonal issue or chronic kidney disease. It is an extremely prevalent condition with some estimates reporting that it affects more than a 25% of adults in the UK with more than 90% of such cases being primary hypertension.
What causes High Blood Pressure?
A certain level of blood pressure is required to help blood reach all the necessary tissues of your body, if this wasn’t the case such as in hypotension or excessively low blood pressure then people may feel faint, dizzy and even lose consciousness. You will have experienced a type of hypotension, postural hypotension, if you have ever had a head rush after sitting or lying down for an extended period of time.
Unfortunately this pressure can become excessive to the point where it causes damage to your vasculature, your arteries and veins. This is a risk factor for a whole host of conditions such as cardiovascular disease, aneurisms, kidney disease, stroke and dementia.
Though there may not be one defining cause of high blood pressure there are a number of factors that could contribute to it such as age, a family history, a sedentary lifestyle coupled with poor diet and frequent smoking and alcohol consumption. Additionally some studies have found that people of Afro-Caribbean descent have an increased risk as well.
In cases of secondary hypertension where there is a clearly identifiable clinical cause it is often found that kidney disease, diabetes, hormonal conditions and the use of recreational drugs can all cause elevated blood pressure.
What are the symptoms of High Blood Pressure?
Hypertension itself has no overt symptoms; you don’t suddenly have a sensation of higher blood pressure. Hypertension tends to be diagnosed during a check-up with a clinician or due to a condition it may have contributed to such as a stroke or cardiovascular disease. Having said that some people with extremely high blood pressure sometimes find themselves more susceptible to nosebleeds in everyday life.
How is High Blood Pressure treated?
Initial treatments for mild hypertension involve lifestyle changes such as weight loss, diet improvements, exercise programs and reducing smoking, caffeine and alcohol as all of these can contribute to elevated blood pressure.
If hypertension persists or is severe enough to warrant medical intervention then beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers may be prescribed. These decrease the strength and frequency of your heartbeats and widen your blood vessels respectively; reducing the strain they are subjected to. Further drugs may be added to this as part of a combination therapy such as ACE inhibitors and diuretics.