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- What is Hypertension?
- Diagnosing Hypertension
- What Causes Hypertension?
- Help for Hypertension
- More Information on Hypertension
What is Hypertension?
Blood pressure is defined as the force that the blood exerts on the veins and arteries while it circulates around the body. If this force is greater than it should be, it is often referred to as High Blood Pressure or Hypertension. Blood pressure is controlled by a variety of organs and body systems, including the heart, the blood vessels, the kidneys, the brain and the adrenal glands, as well as the complex interaction between the body systems.
Hypertension is sometimes known as the Silent Killer, because it often carries no symptoms at all until something serious happens. However, high blood pressure symptoms sometimes include headaches or a ringing sound in the ears. High blood pressure symptoms also may include blood shot eyes and elevated heart rate but these symptoms may also be caused by other conditions. If you think you are experiencing high blood pressure symptoms, it is highly advisable that you visit your doctor, homeopath, naturopath or other health care provider.
Hypertension is diagnosed only after repeated measurements show that the systolic and/or diastolic blood pressure is consistently above normal. This is because normal blood pressure does fluctuate throughout the day and is highly influenced by stress – which can result from a visit to your doctor!
While in most cases extensive work is not needed to diagnose hypertension, your physician may suggest further tests to determine the cause of the elevated blood pressure as well as any damage to organs that may have occurred as a result.
Tests for Hypertension
Blood pressure is measured by using two different numbers – systolic pressure (the top number) over diastolic pressure (the bottom number). Systolic pressure measures blood pressure as the heart contracts and pushes blood through the arteries. Diastolic pressure is taken when the heart relaxes. Normal blood pressure is around 120/80 or lower.
It is important to note that blood pressure varies from person to person and can fluctuate from moment to moment. One or two high readings do not necessarily mean that you have hypertension or high blood pressure.
If your blood pressure has measured 140/90 or higher on at least two separate occasions, your doctor should recommend a 24 hour BP (blood pressure) monitor, which will show whether your BP remains consistently raised. This will help to determine whether you have hypertension or not.
What Causes Hypertension?
Although the causes are not always known, high blood pressure can often run in families, indicating a strong genetic component. Risk factors for high blood pressure include smoking, alcohol abuse, a high salt intake, lack of exercise and stress, as well as a family history of hypertension and stroke. Arteriosclerosis (a thickening, hardening and narrowing of the walls of the arteries) is also commonly associated with high blood pressure.
Help for Hypertension
It is very important to take steps to control high blood pressure. If it is left untreated, it can result in heart disease, stroke or even death. The good news is that hypertension can be well controlled by combining a healthy lifestyle with the correct medical treatment. This can include synthetic prescription medication, natural high blood pressure treatments or a combination of both.
Medication for High Blood Pressure
There are many different prescription drugs for high blood pressure including vasodilators, alpha-blockers, beta-blockers, diuretics, etc. Each has a different way of working and different drugs may work for different people. You may need to try a variety before you find the right drug or combination of drugs suitable for you. Some examples of medication that your doctor may recommend are: enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), atenolol (Tenormin), and furosemide (Lasix).
Like many synthetic drugs, anti-hypertensive medication has a risk of causing side effects, which depend on the person as well as the type of drug being taken. These can include dizziness, nausea, stomach problems, fatigue, impotence, insomnia, loss of appetite, and low blood pressure among others. Always speak to your doctor if you are having problems.
Changes in lifestyle can be highly beneficial to anyone suffering from hypertension. Adopting a healthy and balanced diet is often the first crucial step - as is keeping up with a healthy and regular exercise routine. Alcohol and caffeine consumption should be kept to a minimum and salt intake should be dramatically reduced. Potassium intake should be increased as this lowers blood pressure so try eating more bananas, oranges, zucchini, and spinach as they are all good sources of potassium.
Lastly, excess weight or obesity should be addressed as it contributes to hypertension in several ways. These simple life changes can lower the blood pressure, and sometimes may be all that is needed, as well as improve overall response to blood pressure treatments.
More Information on Hypertension
Are there Other Disorders that may result from Hypertension?
Hypertension is a serious condition that can damage the heart, blood vessels, and other organs in the body. If ignored, Hypertension can eventually lead to several other serious conditions, including:
- Heart failure
- Heart attack
- Kidney failure
- Vision problems
Tips for the Prevention of Hypertension
- Take life as it comes and slow down. Stress is a huge influencing factor in hypertension so try to reduce stress levels and learn to relax! You may try listening to calming music, or meditation.
- Eat and exercise responsibly. Many people need a helping hand in this department so consider seeking the professional advice of a nutritionist and/or a fitness coach.
- Use your condition as an opportunity to adopt positive life changes. Get in touch with nature and take long walks. Try other relaxation methods such as yoga or Pilates.
- If you have other health complaints such as insomnia or constipation – sort them out as soon as possible as these can contribute to high blood pressure.
- Make sure you keep a regular check on your blood pressure levels and work steadily towards your goals.
- Keep a list of any medications you may be on close at hand in case of an emergency.