High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
Blood pressure is a measure of the force of blood pushing against the walls of blood vessels. Normally, blood pressure changes throughout the day, depending on a person’s physical activity and emotional state, such as climbing stairs, walking, or feeling anxious or happy. But when a person is calm, the blood pressure tends to return to normal levels. Most doctors consider blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg to be high. Therefore, one high blood pressure reading measured at the clinic does not provide enough information for a doctor to make a diagnosis. If home blood pressure readings often exceed 140/90, this could be a sign of hypertension that requires medical attention.
Symptoms of Hypertension
The onset of hypertension is characterized by a lack of symptoms, so most people with high blood pressure do not feel any discomfort. Unpleasant symptoms begin to appear within a few years.
- tinnitus due to blood rushing to the head
- headaches, dizziness
- rapid heartbeat
- excessive sweating while feeling chills
- irregular pulse
- episodes of anxiety and irritability
- feeling tired and sleep-deprived
- swelling and numbness in fingers and toes
The symptoms of hypertension are of an intermittent nature that can be relieved by rest. If left untreated, the disease causes serious health problems.
- decreased vision
- memory loss
- kidney disorders
- weakness in arms and legs
- changes in gait
- heart problems
- damaged blood vessels
The higher the blood pressure, the harder the heart must work to maintain normal blood circulation. Hence, untreated hypertension makes the heart walls thin, leading to disruption of blood supply to the heart.
Find Out Your Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
Around 60% of adults are at risk of developing hypertension, and half of them have one or more risk factors. This fact significantly increases the likelihood of the disease.
People with a first-degree family history of hypertension (father, mother, grandparents, siblings) are more likely to develop the condition. This risk increases even further with the number of relatives diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Arterial hypertension is more common in men, especially in those aged between 35 and 50. However, postmenopausal women are also at increased risk of high blood pressure.
High blood pressure often develops in patients aged 35 and over. Studies have revealed that the older the person, the higher the blood pressure reading.
Stress and Emotional Tension
The stress hormone adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, causes the heart to beat faster, increasing the output of blood. All of these effects result in an increase in blood pressure.
When a person is under chronic stress, a constant cardiac workload wears out the vessels. Eventually, blood pressure becomes chronically high.
Drinking alcohol is one of the main causes of high blood pressure. Heavy drinking on a regular basis increases blood pressure by 5-6 mmHg.
Vascular Diseases and High Blood Cholesterol
High levels of cholesterol cause the hardening of blood vessels and affect the function of the heart. Blood pressure is closely related to the condition of vessels, and therefore one disease can trigger another.
The components of tobacco smoke cause spasms of arteries after entering the bloodstream. Nicotine, along with other substances found in tobacco smoke, damages the walls of blood vessels and disrupts their function.
Eating Too Much Salt
Nowadays, people consume much more sodium than they need. Excess salt intake often leads to spasms of the arteries, and fluid retention in the body, resulting in the development of arterial hypertension.
People who do not do enough physical activity have a 20-50 % greater risk of developing hypertension than those who are sufficiently active. Sedentary behavior has a negative impact on metabolism and cardiovascular endurance. In addition, exercise helps lower stress levels, while physical inactivity contributes to weakening the nervous system and the whole body.
Being overweight can increase the risk of high blood pressure. This is not surprising since obesity is often associated with other factors listed, such as lack of physical activity, and eating foods high in fat and salt. It is estimated that each excess kilogram of body weight increases blood pressure by 2 mmHg.
If you have at least two risk factors, it points to a higher risk of having hypertension. Try to pay special attention to such preventive measures as keeping a blood pressure diary and undergoing annual testing.