High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension or HBP, is a leading disease among people around the world. In fact, approximately 32% of people in America suffer from high blood pressure.
Simply put, high blood pressure is when the blood coursing through your blood vessels constantly exerts a high force on the walls of the blood vessels.
Over an extended period, high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels and increase the risks of quite a few physical issues, some of which can prove to be fatal.
In this post, let’s find out the causes, symptoms, dangers, and treatments of high blood pressure.
Causes of HBP
To understand the causes, let’s go back a little bit. The heart, as we know, pumps blood with ample amounts of oxygen around our body, and the returning low-oxygen blood is sent to the lungs by the heart to replenish its oxygen content.
The pumping of the blood by the heart’s muscles causes the pressure. HBP means there’s too much force on the walls of the blood vessels at all times. However, there are two types of HBP:
- Essential HBP: There is an established cause of this type of hypertension.
- Secondary HBP: This means that there is a different health problem that is causing hypertension.
As stated, secondary HBP is caused by other physical problems; As for essential HBP, there are some common traits that can cause hypertension. Let’s take a quick look at those:
- Age – the higher the age, the more at risk you are of getting HBP
- History of hypertension in the family, especially ancestors
- Having diabetes increases the risk of HBP
- Some ethnicities are more prone to hypertension like South Asian and Afro-Caribbean
- Having a high-fat diet regularly and/or having excess salt in your meals
- Taking a lot of mental stress and worrying a lot
- Being overweight
- Not exercising enough
- Smoking and/or too much alcohol consumption
As we can see, there are some causes that we don’t have any control over like age, race, and family history, but there are other factors that are associated with our lifestyle that we can change to decrease the risk. We’ll discuss this further in the treatment section.
Symptoms of HBP
Many people say that there are various symptoms of high blood pressure. While there are some symptoms of course, for the most part, hypertension is symptomless, and therefore called the “silent killer” in the medical world. In fact, some people might not even see these symptoms until many years later when their hypertension has reached a severe level.
On the severe side, some of the symptoms of HBP are:
- Flushing and/or dizziness
- Pain in the chest
- Bleeding from the nose
- Eyesight problems
- Blood passing with urine
These symptoms are as severe as they sound, and if you face any of these symptoms, you should urgently consult a doctor.
However, since HBP is often symptomless, it’s a good idea to monitor your blood pressure routinely. Whenever you visit a doctor, ask them to check your blood pressure. Alternately, you can purchase a sphygmomanometer and keep tabs on your blood pressure at home.
Dangers of HBP
We’ve already learned that high blood pressure is dangerous. But how dangerous? What can HBP lead to? Let’s find out.
#1. Damaged Arteries and Heart
Due to the heavy pressure exerted on the walls of the blood vessels, some of your arteries can be damaged. Sometimes, the fat content of your diet is deposited directly in the arteries, thus narrowing them and not allowing enough blood to flow to all parts of your body. This can lead to heart failure or heart attack over time alongside other coronary complications.
Also, an aneurysm ruptures in the weakened artery causing internal bleeding may occur, which can often be fatal.
#2. Dangers to the Brain
Your brain needs a fresh supply of oxygen to function properly. With high blood pressure, some blood vessels supplying that oxygen to the brain can be reduced. As a result, with limited oxygen supply, a stroke might occur in your brain, which can be life-threatening.
Other than that, HBP can cause dementia and even some cognitive problems.
#3. Kidneys Can Be Affected
Hypertension can damage blood vessels leading in and out of the kidneys. As a result, your kidneys can be at risk of damage. Other than fatal kidney failure, other severe conditions like kidney scarring and aneurysms might occur due to HBP.
#4. Impaired Vision
HBP can damage the blood vessels that are connected to your eyes’ retina, causing various nerve damage and other eyesight issues. As a result, you might have impaired vision or even partial or full blindness.
#5. Risks of Sexual Dysfunction
As a result of high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction may occur in men. For women, HBP can reduce the amount of blood reaching the nerve ending of the vagina, thus reducing sexual desire or ability.
Treatment of HBP
Firstly, if you face any of the symptoms we’ve discussed, it means your hypertension is at a severe level. In such cases, you should immediately contact one of the urgent care centers in your area.
Other than that, if you get diagnosed with high blood pressure, you should consult a doctor to prescribe you the necessary medication based on your physical condition and unique needs.
As we had mentioned previously, high blood pressure is often caused by our lifestyle. Therefore, changing your lifestyle if you get diagnosed with hypertension is also important. Some tips to a healthy lifestyle for hypertensive patients are:
- Eat less fatty food or those rich in cholesterol
- Refrain from consuming excess salt
- Quit smoking
- Lower the amount of alcohol you consume
- Exercise on a regular basis, or get more physical activity than before
- And very importantly, get enough sleep and try not to take much mental stress
These would help you live a healthier lifestyle, thus battle high blood pressure.
High blood pressure, the silent killer, may not have immediate symptoms or effects, but in the long run, it can be fatal. If you have any of the symptoms or have been diagnosed with hypertension, you should consult a doctor and start your treatment immediately, alongside following the tips above.
If you haven’t been diagnosed, you should still try to follow the tips as they can help prevent high blood pressure. You should also keep routine tabs on your blood pressure levels.
Just because HBP is usually symptomless, you shouldn’t be reluctant to prevent it. By following the tips and having good knowledge about high blood pressure, you can live a long and healthy life.