What is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is essential for life. Normal blood pressure is 120/80mmHg. When blood pressure exceeds these values we call it high blood pressure. High blood pressure causes resistance to the pumping of the blood – this requires that the heart work harder than normal to circulate blood through the blood vessels and to maintain that elevated blood pressure.

In the long run this leads towards dire health consequences and life threatening medical conditions – eventually leading to morbidity and death.

High blood pressure is also known as Hypertension (HTN). You have hypertension when your blood pressure remains constantly elevated for the whole month even while you are resting. Clinically speaking, Hypertension is an elevated Systolic Blood Pressure, Diastolic Blood Pressure, or both. It is diagnosed as “The mean of two or more properly measured seated BP measurements taken on two or more occasions and are found to be above the normal value of 120/80 mmHg.”

Blood pressure is always measured in two values e.g 120/80 mmHg. There are two kinds of Blood Pressure, Systolic and Diastolic. In the above example 120 is systolic blood pressure while 80 is diastolic blood pressure.

Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure

So what are these systolic and diastolic blood pressures? We know that our heart is always beating. When our heart beats, the pressure generated by the force of the heart when it pumps blood through the arteries is called the systolic blood pressure.

On the other hand, our arteries are elastic like a rubber tube. When the heart pumps blood into them they stretch. When the heart relaxes, the stretched arteries contract back and then the artieries exert pressure on the blood. This pressure is called diastolic blood pressure – its value is always less than the sytolic blood pressure.

What is the difference between High Blood Pressure and Hypertension?

High blood pressure is simply an increase in blood pressure, while hypertension is a disease. Slight increase in blood pressure is normal in daily life. E.g. when you exercise or walk fast or when you get angry or excited, your heart starts beating fast and this raises your blood pressure. That’s nothing to worry about, it’s a normal process of your body to cope with your activity or feelings – it’s part of being healthy.

When your blood pressure remains continuously raised for days even while you are resting, that’s the point when you should start to worry because that’s not healthy. If your blood pressure remains continuously raised over the whole month, that means that you have Hypertension.

Having hypertension is indeed a major concern for you but do not worry too much because here we will educate you about hypertension and tell you how to live a healthy and worry-free life. With strong will and proper guidance you don’t have to worry about hypertension ever again.

Why you should urgently care about hypertension!

High Blood Pressure is not known as the silent killer for nothing – it is a major risk factor for many dreaded medical conditions. Even a moderate raise in arterial blood pressure is associated with a shortened life expectancy.

Hypertension, as mentioned above, puts your heart under continuous stress. This weakens your heart and in the long run can lead to various heart diseases. You should never forget this because death from heart attacks is the leading cause of death today.

Unfortunately, this silent killer strikes at more than one point. Hypertension not only negatively affects your heart but also damages your kidneys, eyes, blood vessels and brain. These are the major organs of your body, and having hypertension puts your life at risk from damage to these organs. There are other minor adverse effects as well. These give us reason enough to be highly concerned about maintaining our blood pressure in the normal range – which would remove all the stress on these organs.

Fortunately, this Silent killer can be tamed. Hypertension can be easily managed with proper guidance and some effort on our part. Get hold of your health and treat hypertension before it kills you!

Signs and symptoms

High Blood Pressure Symptoms

Though High Blood Pressure is a life threatening situation, it is not usually accompanied by any signs or symptoms. That’s why it is known as the silent killer, but symptoms do develop when your blood pressures becomes so high that your body cannot tolerate it. So a proportion of people with high blood pressure report these symptoms:

  1. Headaches (particularly at the back of the head and in the morning)
  2. Lightheadedness
  3. Dizziness
  4. Tinnitus (buzzing or ringing in the ears)
  5. Altered vision
  6. Fainting episodes.

Are all Hypertensions the same? Stages Of Hypertension

An important question. Should you just start taking medication if you have hypertension? No!
Having Hypertension, or continuously elevated blood pressure does not mean you need to start taking prescription medicines immediately. Joint National Commission for hypertension, JNC-7, advise doctors and patients to classify the stage of hypertension. These are the three stages.
  1. Normal: B.P = Upto 120/80 mmHg – You are Healthy and Wealthy (Health is Wealth!)
  2. Pre-Hypertension Stage 1 : 120-140/80-90 mmHg
  3. Pre-Hypertension Stage 2 : 140-160/90-100 mmHg
  4. Hypertension: Above 160/100 mmHg. This is the stage when you need to aggressively combat hypertension with prescription medicines because you are at high risk of organ damage.
  5. Hypertensive Crisis: above 200/110 mmHg. This is an emergency situation and can have fatal consequences such as heart attack and stroke. The patient should immediately be taken to hospital and reported to the emergency room.
The main reason behind this classification is that you do not need to start taking prescription medicines immediately. JNC suggests that people with pre-hypertension do not need heavy medication. They can bring their B.P back to normal through lifestyle modifications.
This suggestion is for people who are healthy otherwise. Elderly people or people who have other major diseases like diabetes or heart diseases should always take medication no matter what stage of hypertension they have. This is very important for your health and safety.

What are the different types of Hypertension?

  1. Primary Hypertension is the most common type of hypertension. This is the hypertension which apparently does not have any identifiable cause. It is also known as “Essential Hypertension.
  2. Secondary hypertension is hypertension which has a definite cause such as kidney disease or obesity.
  3. Malignant hypertension often stems from Hypertensive Crisis. It is diagnosed when there is evidence of direct damage to one or more organs as a result of severely elevated blood pressure.
  4. White Coat Hypertension – Some people experience high blood pressure when they see a doctor who is about to examine them – this is due to apprehension or the fear of the unknown. The patient is afraid what the doctor might say – whether or not they have some dreaded disease. This is known as white coat hypertension (because the doctors are wearing white coats). This is usually resolved when the patient sits and relaxes for about 10 minutes.
  5. Borderline Hypertension is the former word for what is now known as Pre-Hypertension. This stage reflects that you have hypertension developing in your system and you need to take measures now before you become Hypertensive and risk organ damage.

What Causes Hypertension

The exact cause of high blood pressure varies from person to person. Factors and conditions contributing to the development of hypertension are:

Smoking Stress Thyroid Problem Pregnancy
  1. Smoking
  2. Excess Weight or Obesity
  3. Lack of physical activity
  4. Sedentary lifestyle
  5. High Salt Intake
  6. High Alcohol Consumption (more than 1 to 2 drinks per day)
  7. Old age
  8. Genetics
  9. Family history of high blood pressure
  10. Chronic kidney disease
  11. Adrenal and thyroid disorders
  12. Medications that constrict blood vessels
  13. High Cholesterol (hyperlipidemia),
  14. Artherosclerosis – Narrowing of arteries due to high lipid content in the body
  15. Stress
  16. Thyroid problem
  17. Genetics – Family history of high blood pressure
  18. Race – African-Americans are at higher risk of developing hypertension
  19. Pregnancy
  20. Birth control pills – specifically those containing oestrogen
  21. Age – above 35 years
Kidney disease ranks highest as the cause of secondary hypertension because our kidneys need pressure to filter the blood. So they have the ability to increase blood pressure when they are not functioning properly due to tumors or other abnormalities that cause the adrenal glands (small glands present on top of the kidneys) to secrete excess amounts of the hormones that elevate blood pressure.

Essential hypertension is greatly influenced by diet and lifestyle. The link between salt and high blood pressure is especially compelling. People living on the northern islands of Japan eat more salt per capita than anyone else in the world and have the highest incidence of essential hypertension. By contrast, people who add no salt to their food show virtually no traces of essential hypertension.

Things to be Worried About – Take Immediate Action To Be Safe From These Dangers!

Hypertension can really damage your body in the long run – If worrying makes you take action then you should definitely worry because hypertension, if untreated, can result in following:

Damage to arteries – Continuously raised high blood pressure can damage the cells of your arteries’ inner lining. This causes arteriosclerosis – or hardening of the arteries – which can lead to serious cardiovascular complications.

Damage to the Heart – Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage your heart in a number of ways, such as:

  1. Coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease affects the arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle. Arteries narrowed by coronary artery disease don’t allow blood to flow freely through your arteries. When blood can’t flow freely to your heart, it can cause chest pain, irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias) and heart attack.
  2. Enlarged left heart. High blood pressure forces your heart to work harder than necessary in order to pump blood to the rest of your body. This causes the left ventricle (the part of the heart which pumps blood to your body) to thicken and grow abnormally. Medically this is known as Left Ventricular Hypertrophy. This condition increases the risk of heart failure and can cause continuous cough because the enlarged heart now presses against the lung.
  3. Heart failure. Over time, the stress on your heart caused by high blood pressure weakens the heart muscle and it works less efficiently. This eventually leads to heart failure – which is simply when the heart cannot maintain balance between the demand and supply of blood.

Brain Damage can result from Hypertension.

  1. Transient ischemic attack or TIA is caused when the brain cannot get enough oxygen rich blood due to narrowing of arteries by atherosclerosis, or blockage of blood vessels by blood clot (both of which can arise from high blood pressure). If not resloved, this can lead to brain damage.
  2. Stroke – High Blood Pressure damages and weakens the brain’s blood vessels, causing them to rupture or leak. People with High blood pressure sometimes get headaches because the delicate vessels in the brain cannot handle such high pressure of blood. When this pressure becomes too much, they get ruptured and leak blood, which can clog up to form clots and block other blood vessels. This results in Brain Haemorrhage and Stroke which can be fatal.
  3. Dementia or Loss Of Memory can result from interruption of blood flow to the brain due to stroke or TIA, both of which may be caused by high blood pressure.

Damage to Kidneys or Kidney failure. High blood pressure can damage both the large arteries leading to your kidneys and the tiny blood vessels (glomeruli) within the kidneys. As a result your kidneys cannot effectively filter waste from your blood. This leads to accumulation of dangerous levels of fluid and poisonous waste in your blood which may require dialysis or kidney transplantation.

How To Tame the Silent Killer – How You Can Treat Hypertension

Dietary and lifestyle changes can improve blood pressure control and decrease the risk of associated health complications. Although drug treatment is often necessary in people for whom lifestyle changes prove ineffective or insufficient. The JNC 7 recommends the following lifestyle modifications for people with pre hypertension as well as hypertension:

  1. Weight reduction. Maintain a normal weight with a target body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9. This can result in an approximate reduction in systolic blood pressure of 5-20 points per 10 kilograms of weight loss, according to the JNC 7.
  2. DASH Diet or (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan. Adopt a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. Reduce saturated and total fat. This can be expected to drop systolic blood pressure by 8-14 points.
  3. Lower Salt Intake. Reduce dietary sodium to less than 2,400 milligrams or about 1 teaspoon a day. According to the JNC 7, a DASH eating plan limiting salt intake to 1,600-milligram has effects similar to a single drug therapy. The approximate reduction in blood pressure would be 2-8 points.
  4. Aerobic Physical Activity. Engage in regular physical activity, such as brisk walking for at least 30 minutes per day. This can decrease systolic blood pressure by 4-9 points.
  5. Moderation of Alcohol Consumption. Men should limit alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day. A standard drink is defined by the type of alcohol. A standard drink, such as a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5-ounce shot of 80-proof distilled spirits, has between 11 and 14 grams of alcohol. Limiting the amount of alcohol to this quantity is expected to result in a reduction in systolic blood pressure by 2-4 points. This also protects your liver and kidneys from damage
  6. Hypertension Medications along with reduction of causes of high blood pressure.

Excerpts From Scientific Research Studies On Hypertension

    1. Duke University Medical Center suggests exercise and weight loss reduce blood pressure in men and women with mild hypertension.[1]
  • National University Hospital,Iceland explained an indication of increased death rates among women with a history of hypertension. [2]
    1. University of Leuven, Belgium said about the night-day blood pressure ratio predicts mortality.[3]
  • Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington suggests Hypertension and left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) increase the risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) in patients with severe coronary artery disease (CAD).[4]
  1. Anti hypertensive treatment might be effective in preventing or postponing Coronary Heart Disease.[5]

What the Press Says

BBC News: (Click article for full size)

CNN: (Click article for full size)

People all over the world confirm the helalth dangers linked with hypertension

The Silent Killer!

Untreated hypertension damages the heart and other organs and can lead to life-threatening conditions that include heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. It’s called “the silent killer” because symptoms generally appear only after the disease has caused damage to vital organs.

– HDaniel Lackland, DrPH
Spokesman for the American Society of Hypertension

Result of Long-term High Blood Pressure!

The long-term effects of hypertension are cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, heart beat or rhythm problems, congestive heart failure and stroke. Kidney failure can also be the result of long-term high blood pressure.

– Dr. Otis Brawley
Chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society

Exercise Really Makes A Difference!

It helps me reduce stress, gives thinking time and helps me sleep well at night.

– Kellie

Effects of High Blood Pressure!

I agree high blood pressure can make you feel bad because it causes jaw pains, dental problems, intermittent shooting pains in arms, lots of morning headaches ,poor sleep, shortness of breath and all time tiredness.

– Detra Edwards

Long Term Side Effects of Hypertension!

Hypertension can cause long term side effects causing heart disease and further complications the dangers of which are stroke, heart attack and kidney failure.

– Kewal Krishan Verma
Jacksonville Family Practice Doctor

Michael Donelly

About Michael Donelly

Michael Donelly is Gnet's founder and occasionally posts information. If you'd like to get in touch about anything business related you can contact him on Twitter: @MichaelDonelly2. And if you like what you read here then why not sign up for our newsletter to get regular updates on your interests?

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