What is hypertension?
Hypertension is the condition in which the blood pressure is high enough to eventually cause health problems. High blood pressure results from the tightening of very small arteries called arterioles. Arterioles regulate the blood flow throughout the body. As these arterioles tighten, the heart has to work harder to pump blood through the smaller space and the pressure inside the vessels grows. Hypertension is known as “the silent killer” due to the absence of symptoms in many. Untreated high blood pressure increases the risk for heart attack, kidney failure and stroke.
What are the different types of hypertension?
There are two types of hypertension which include
Primary hypertension or essential hypertension: There is no known cause for this type of high blood pressure. This is the most common type of hypertension. This type of blood pressure usually takes many years to develop. It is probably a result of lifestyle, environment and how a body changes with age.
Secondary hypertension: This is when a health problem or medicine is causing high blood pressure. Things that can cause secondary hypertension include
- Kidney problems
- Sleep apnea
- Thyroid or adrenal gland problems
- Some side effects of medicines
When is blood pressure considered high?
- Healthy blood pressure
- Pre-hypertension is 120/80 mm Hg to 139/89 mm Hg
- Hypertension > (greater than) 140/90 mm Hg
- Blood pressure readings above 180 /120 are dangerously high and require immediate medical attention.
What are the common causes of high blood pressure?
High blood pressure may be caused by several factors which include
- Family history of high blood pressure
- Being of Afro-Caribbean or South Asian origin
- High-fat diet
- High amount of salt in the diet
- Lack of exercise
- Being overweight
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Pre-existing health conditions
How is high blood pressure treated?
The goal of treatment is to reduce blood pressure so that a patient may have a lower risk of health problems caused by high blood pressure.
If blood pressure is between 120/80 and 130/80 mm Hg, the doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to bring blood pressure down to a normal range. Medicines are rarely used at this stage.
Stage 1 hypertension: Systolic (upper) reading is between 140 to 159 mm Hg and diastolic (lower) reading is between 90 to 99 mm Hg. The management includes lifestyle changes with a single hypertensive drug.
Stage 2 hypertension: If blood pressure is 160/100 mmHg or higher, the doctor may start the patient on combination medication of at least two medicines with strict lifestyle changes.
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (also called ACE inhibitors): These work via controlling a kidney-mediated blood pressure process.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (also called ARBs): They work in about the same way as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors.
- Diuretics: They simply increase the fluid and salt removal via the kidneys and reduce blood pressure.
- Beta-blockers: These drugs reduce the workload of the heart.
- Calcium channel blockers relax blood vessels by reducing calcium entering into cells.
- Alpha-blockers: These help relax blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure.
- Centrally acting drugs signal the brain and nervous system to relax the blood vessels.
- Vasodilators signal the muscles in the walls of blood vessels to relax.
- Renin inhibitors, a newer type of medicine for treating high blood pressure, act by reducing the amount of certain chemicals in the kidneys, thereby relaxing blood vessels.
Salt and sodium are the same.
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Medically Reviewed on 8/26/2020
Medscape Medical Reference