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Do you know what Hypertension is?

Hypertension is defined as high arterial pressure (tension), which are the blood vessels carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Hypertension and coronary disease are major global health concerns. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the growth of the processed food industry has influenced the amount of salt in diets, which plays a role in hypertension.

Some key facts about hypertension:

Normal range of blood pressure is 120 /80 mmHg and hypertension is when the blood pressure recorded is at /or above 130 /80 mmHg.

Clinically there two types of hypertension:

Essential / primary hypertension: Approximately 90-95 % of cases are  primary, caused by lifestyle and genetic factors.

        Secondary hypertension:  Rest 5–10% of cases are identified as secondary, caused due to an underlying condition, like, chronic kidney disease, endocrine disorder, or the abuse of contraceptives.

  • A research also suggests that alcoholic beverages can  increase blood pressure  too.
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure can be fatal, and cause a heart attack, stroke, and other complications.
  • Routine health check- ups are an efficient way to monitor the blood pressure.
  • Approximately, 85 million population in the U.S.A. have reported high blood pressure.

 Causes:

Essential / primary hypertension:

Essential hypertension causes due to a complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors. Chances of high blood pressure increases with age. Lifestyle factors such as high salt and low potassium intake, lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, obesity, raises the blood pressure. Insulin resistance, may also contribute to hypertension. Early life events, such as premature birth, maternal smoking, may be potential risk factors for adult primary hypertension. There are seasonal variations in blood pressure too, such as blood pressures maybe higher in winters than summers. A family history and high stress may also contribute.

Secondary hypertension:

In this type there is presence of an underlying cause. The most important being, chronic kidney disease because the kidneys do not filter out fluid, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol levels. Endocrine conditions, such as Cushing’s syndrome, abnormal TSH levels, acromegaly, etc.  Other causes include obesity, sleep apnea, pregnancy, excessive eating of liquorice, drinking alcohol, and abuse of illegal drugs such as cocaine.

Symptoms:

In most cases, it does cause perspiration, anxiety, insomnia, and flushing, however,

 the person usually is asymptomatic, without any major symptoms, hence the condition is called as “silent killer.” If undetected, it can lead to varied consequences. Thus regular monitoring of blood pressure is vital.

In extreme cases, a person may experience headaches and nosebleeds.

Complications:

Long-term hypertension can cause atherosclerosis, (clogging of blood vessels) which makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood efficiently.

Further, hypertension induced atherosclerosis, if not treated, may even lead to a heart attack.

Other consequences of hypertension-related atherosclerosis:

  • Heart failure
  • Aneurysm (bulge in the wall of an artery) that can be fatal in some cases.
  • Kidney failure
  • Amputation due to (atrophy of blood vessels, due to extreme narrowing)
  • Retinopathy in the eye, causing blindness

Treatment :

Lifestyle modification:

Lifestyle modification is the first-line treatment for hypertension.

These include:

Reduce salt intake in the diet.

Regular physical exercise.

Avoid intake of saturated fatty acids like, fried foods, red meat.

Limit alcohol intake.

Quit smoking.

Incorporate green leafy vegetables, nuts, fibrous foods in diet.

Reduce stress.

Practice relaxation techniques, meditation.

Life style modification can help reduce the hypertensive symptoms, and decrease the dependency on medications.

Medications :

Patients with uncontrolled hypertension are usually treated with medications.

Side effects of the antihypertensive drugs are mild.

The medications which are usually prescribed are:

Diuretics, including hydrochlorothiazide.

Alpha and Beta blockers.

Calcium-channel blockers

Central agonists

Peripheral adrenergic inhibitor

Vasodilators

 (ACE) inhibitors

Angiotensin receptor blockers.

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