What is High Tension (Hypertension)?

High blood pressure (hypertension) is the high pressure applied by the blood inside the veins to the walls of the veins. This pressure depends on the pumping performed by the heart and the resistance of the blood vessels. Chronic high blood pressure, hypertension, is one of the most common medical problems.

Hypertension usually does not cause any symptoms and may not always be diagnosed at an early stage. It is one of the leading causes of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and other serious medical problems. Blood pressure is recorded with 2 digits. Systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which the heart pumps blood into the body. Diastolic pressure (low number) indicates resistance to blood flow in blood vessels. Both are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Generally:

  • High blood pressure is considered 140/90 mmHg or higher
  • Ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90 / 60 mmHg and 120 / 80 mmHg
  • Low blood pressure is considered to be 90 / 60 mmHg or less.

A blood pressure reading between 120 / 80 mmHg and 140 / 90 mmHg can mean that there is a risk of developing high blood pressure if steps are not taken to keep it under control.

What are the Symptoms of Hypertension?

Most people with hypertension develop symptoms only when their condition progresses to damage. In many cases, the first sign of hypertension may result in a sudden heart attack or stroke. Therefore, hypertension is often called a silent killer.  Hypertension is classified according to how high blood pressure is. Classifications include:

  1. Stage hypertension: Systolic pressure 130 to 139 mmHg or diastolic pressure 80 to 89 mmHg
  2. Stage hypertension: Systolic pressure higher than 139 mmHg or diastolic pressure higher than 89 mmHg

Prehypertension defines blood pressure higher than the desired range but not high enough for labeled hypertension. In prehypertension, systolic pressure is less than 120 to 129 mmHg and diastolic pressure is less than 80 mmHg.

Symptoms of stage 1 and 2 hypertension with prehypertension are rarely seen. Symptoms are usually;

  • Sudden headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nose bleeding
  • Leg swelling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blurred vision

Malignant hypertension: In addition to this type of hypertension, there is a rare, serious form called hypertensive emergency or malignant hypertension. Malignant hypertension is diagnosed when blood pressure is extremely high and accompanied by evidence of acute organ damage. This acute organ damage is caused by very low blood supply or rupture of blood vessels when suddenly exposed to very high blood pressure. The effects may include bleeding in the eyes, renal failure, irregular heart rhythm, heart attack, aneurysm rupture or stroke.

Symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vision changes
  • Weakness, numbness or tingling in the face, arms or legs

Malignant hypertension is always a medical emergency and may require intensive medical care.

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

The pressure produced by the heart forces the blood forward and strains the elastic walls of the arteries.  Between heartbeats, while the heart muscle relaxes, the artery walls advance blood to the tissues of the body and return to their original shape. With hypertension, the pressure in the arteries rises enough to eventually damage the blood vessels. The causes of hypertension are generally divided into 2 general categories. These,

  1. Primary hypertension without a known cause is also called essential hypertension
  2. Secondary hypertension caused by an underlying medical problem

The majority of people with hypertension have essential hypertension.

  • Primary Hypertension: There are some risk factors that make primary hypertension more likely. Most of these include advancing age, male gender, obesity, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. After menopause, women are more likely to develop hypertension. Hypertension is also more common and more severe in people with a family history.
  • Secondary Hypertension: Secondary hypertension can be caused by kidney disease.  It may also cause sleep apnea, aortic coarctation, disease of the blood vessels feeding the kidneys, various endocrine gland disorders, oral contraceptives, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, continuous use of anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and antidepressant use.

However, excessive salt intake is an important factor in the development of hypertension for many people.

How is Hypertension Diagnosed?

If it is found that your blood pressure is constantly rising during rest, you will be diagnosed with hypertension. A blood pressure measurement is expressed in two numbers, systolic and diastolic blood pressures, and is reported as 120 mmHg / 80 mmHg or simply 12/8. The higher the number, the systolic pressure represents the pressure within the artery at the time the heart contracts. The low number of diastolic pressures represents arterial pressure between heartbeats while the heart is relaxed.

Treatment of Hypertension

Simple lifestyle changes can often help reduce high blood pressure (hypertension), but some people may also need to take medication. The doctor will advise the patient about changes in your lifestyle and may give you some blood pressure stabilizing or lowering medications. It also performs some blood and urine tests. Everyone with high blood pressure is recommended to make healthy lifestyle changes. Whether or not the drug is recommended depends on the patient’s blood pressure measurement and the risk of developing a heart attack or stroke. According to the numerical value of blood pressure;

  • Although blood pressure is consistently above 140 / 90 mmHg (or 135 / 85 mmHg at home), it is recommended that you make changes to your lifestyle if the risk of other problems is low.
  • If blood pressure is consistently above 140 / 90 mmHg (or 135 / 85 mmHg at home) and there is a high risk of developing other health problems, it will be advisable to take medication to lower blood pressure as well as lifestyle changes.
  • If the blood pressure is continuously above 160/100 mmHg, some medications are given by the doctor in addition to lifestyle changes to lower blood pressure.

Lifestyle Changes For High Blood Pressure

There are some important changes in your lifestyle to reduce high blood pressure. These lifestyle changes will lower blood pressure within a few weeks and provide a healthier quality of life.

Lifestyle changes for high blood pressure include;

  • Salt use should be reduced as much as possible.
  • A low-fat, balanced diet, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables can cause high blood pressure to drop dramatically.
  • Exercise and exercise during the day.
  • Releasing alcohol causes blood pressure to drop.
  • Loss weight.
  • Consume less caffeine. Most caffeine is found in coffee, tea and cola
  • Stop smoking.
  • Sleep at least 6 hours at night

High Blood Pressure Drugs

Various medications prescribed by the doctor can be used to control high blood pressure. Sometimes the doctor may recommend combinations of different drugs.

Initially, the recommended medication for the patient will depend on age and family history. These;

  • Patients under the age of 55 are often given an ACE inhibitor or an angiotensin-2 receptor blocker (ARB).
  • A 55-year-old or older patient is usually given a calcium channel blocker.

Blood pressure patients may need to use blood pressure medications for the rest of their lives.  However, if the blood pressure remains under control for some time, the doctor may reduce or stop the treatment. It is very important to take the medicines as prescribed by your doctor. If the dose is exceeded or reduced, the effect will be minimal. Drugs used to treat high blood pressure may have side effects, but most people may experience no side effects.

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