High blood pressure is also known as hypertension. A person has high blood pressure when his or her blood pressure rises to a very high level. Your blood pressure at any given time refers to the amount of blood that is passing through your blood vessels and the level of resistance offered by the blood vessels while the heart is pumping.
If a person has narrow arteries, the resistance to the flow of blood will increase. So, narrow arteries increase blood pressure. So, if high blood pressure persists, it can lead to health issues, like heart disease.
Hypertension is a common condition. According to the British Heart Foundation, as many as 5 million adults in the UK have undiagnosed high blood pressure.
Hypertension doesn’t occur all-at-once. It develops over several years. You won’t notice any symptoms at first. But then, it will cause gradual damage to your vessels and blood organs, mostly the kidneys, eyes, heart, and brain.
Early diagnosis is very important. Get your blood pressure measured regularly can help you notice any changes. If your doctor notices a rise in your blood pressure, he or she may have your blood pressure checked over a few weeks to see if the rise will be consistent or whether it will reduce to normal levels.
Hypertension may be treated with prescription medicines, and also managed with healthy lifestyle changes. Failure to treat this condition may lead to complications, such as stroke and heart attack.
Other complications may include:
There are two main types of hypertension. Each has its cause.
It is also known as essential hypertension. It develops gradually over time. The main cause is not known. Most cases of high blood pressure are of an essential kind.
Medical researchers are still battling to unravel the cause of gradual blood pressure increase. It appears to be caused by a combination of factors. These include:
Secondary hypertension is the very opposite of primary hypertension. It occurs quickly. It may be severer than primary hypertension. Factors that may cause secondary hypertension include:
Living a healthy life can help you to check those factors that contribute to hypertension. Common lifestyle tips to reduce high blood pressure include:
A healthy diet is very essential for reducing high blood pressure. It also reduces the risk of complications. Foods that should make up your diet include:
You must increase your level of physical activity. Apart from shedding weight, exercise eases stress, causes your blood pressure to lower naturally, and also boosts your cardiovascular system. You can try exercising moderately for up to 150 minutes each week. This translates to 30 minutes five times weekly.
If you are obese or overweight, you must lose weight. You can achieve this with a heart-healthy diet combined with moderate physical activity.
There’s no need to be overstressed. Ease the tension with stress-relieving activities such as:
The different medicines that help with blood pressure reduction include:
ACE inhibitors: ACE is an acronym for angiotensin-converting enzyme. Angiotensin is a chemical that causes the narrowing and tightening of the artery walls and the blood vessels. ACE inhibitors prevent the production of angiotensin in large amounts. And so, your blood vessels will relax, and your blood pressure will reduce. Examples of ACE inhibitors include enalapril, lisinopril, perindopril, and ramipril.
Angiotensin II receptor blockers: Angiotensin II receptor blockers prevent the binding of angiotensin with its receptors. So, even if angiotensin is produced, it cannot work because it has been prevented from binding with its receptors in the body. As such, your blood vessels will relax and blood pressure lowered. Examples of angiotensin II receptor blockers include candesartan, irbesartan, losartan, valsartan, and Olmesartan.
Calcium channel blockers: As the name implies, calcium channel blockers prevent the entry of calcium into your heart muscles. Your heart muscles are known as cardiac muscles. This reduces the force of your heartbeats and also lowers blood pressure. Calcium channel blockers also cause the relaxation of blood vessels. This further lower blood pressure. Calcium channel blockers include amlodipine, felodipine, nifedipine, verapamil, or diltiazem.
Diuretics: Excess sodium or fluid in your body can cause a rise in blood pressure. Diuretics are also known as water pills. They promote the removal of excess sodium from your body through your kidneys. Removal of sodium also causes the excess fluid in your blood to leave. This fluid goes into your urine and is excreted. This allows your blood pressure to go down. Diuretics include indapamide and Bendroflumethiazide.
Beta-blockers: beta-blockers reduce the force of your heartbeat. They also reduce the speed at which your heartbeats. This reduces the amount of blood that your heart pumps through the arteries with each beat. This, in turn, lowers your blood pressure. Examples of beta-blockers are atenolol and bisoprolol.
Alpha-blockers: Alpha-blockers alter the nerve impulses that cause your blood vessels to narrow or tighten. This causes the relaxation of your blood vessels, and ultimately, reduction of blood pressure. Doxazosin is an example of an alpha-blocker.
There is a very high incidence of high blood pressure among adults in developed countries. If left unchecked, it can cause complications such as stroke, heart disease, kidney failure, and peripheral vascular disease. It is important that you check your blood pressure regularly, and work together with your healthcare provider to get the right treatment.
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“High Blood Pressure.” (Hypertension), www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/risk-factors/high-blood-pressure.
Kitt J, Fox R, Tucker KL, McManus RJ. New Approaches in Hypertension Management: A Review of Current and Developing Technologies and Their Potential Impact on Hypertension Care. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2019;21(6):44. Published 2019 Apr 25. doi:10.1007/s11906-019-0949-4