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What is it?

Hypertension is a medical condition where the pressure exerted by blood against the artery walls is high enough to cause health issues like heart disease on a long-term basis. Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood pumped by the heart and the resistance to the blood flowing in the arteries. If the heart pumps more blood and the arteries are narrow, then the blood pressure is high.

Hypertension develops over time and it will affect most of us. However, it can be easily detected and controlled by following the doctor’s recommendations.

When to see the doctor?

Hypertension patients usually do not suffer from any signs or symptoms even if their blood pressure is at fatally high levels. Some patients would suffer from headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds.

It is recommended that blood pressure is taken for every doctor’s appointment. It is recommended to take it at least twice every year for people between 18-39 years, however, if they have a high risk of high BP, it is recommended they take it once every year. It is recommended that anyone over 40 years check their blood pressure at least once every year.

Types of Hypertension

There are basically two types of hypertension:

  • Primary Hypertension: tends to develop over the years and has no identifiable cause but most common cause being sedentary lifestyle
  • Secondary Hypertension: is usually caused by an underlying condition and it can appear suddenly. It can also be higher than primary hypertension. Many causes have been associated with it, like,
    • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
    • Kidney Problems
    • Adrenal Gland Tumors
    • Thyroid problems
    • Congenital defects present in the blood vessels
    • Certain medications like birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers etc.
    • Illegal narcotic drugs like cocaine and amphetamines

Hypertension Risk Factors
Some of the risk factors for hypertension are:

  • Age: high blood pressure risk increases with age
  • Family History: if Hypertension runs in families
  • Being Overweight: leads to more blood needed to supply the oxygen and nutrients required by the tissues. The increase in blood supply leads to higher pressure on the artery walls.
  • Less Physically Active: leads to being overweight , conseqently read to higher heart rates.
  • Smoking: increase the blood pressure temporarily, in addition to the narrowing of blood vessels by the chemicals in tobacco.
  • High Sodium Content in Diet: will lead to more fluid retention in the body, leading to hypertension.
  • Stress: can also lead to a temporary increase in BP.
  • Drinking alcohol: damages the heart and liver, in turn, increases blood pressure.

Diagnosis
Doctors evaluate a patient’s blood pressure by placing an inflatable arm cuff around the arm and then measure the blood pressure by using a pressure-measuring gauge. The blood pressure reading has two numbers,

  • Systolic Pressure: or the upper number is the pressure in the arteries when the heartbeats.
  • Diastolic Pressure: or the lower number is the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats.

The categories of blood pressure are:

  • Normal Blood Pressure: is when the value is below 120/80 mm Hg.
  • Elevated Blood Pressure: is when the systolic pressure is between 100/60 – 120/80 mm Hg and or diastolic pressure is above 80 mm Hg.
  • Stage 1 Hypertension: is when the systolic pressure ranges from 130-139 mm Hg and/or diastolic pressure ranges from 81-89 mm Hg.
  • Stage 2 Hypertension: is when the systolic pressure is higher than 140 mm Hg and/or diastolic pressure is above 90 mmHg.

Treatment

  • Lifestyle Changes: The doctors usually recommend controlling high blood pressure by making certain lifestyle changes like,
    • Eating a healthy diet with less salt
    • Regular physical activity
    • Maintain a healthy weight
    • Limit smoking and alcohol
  • Medications: The doctors might recommend the following medications to treat high blood pressure:
    • Thiazide Diuretics: are medications that act on the kidneys to eliminate sodium and water, thus reducing blood volume.
    • ACE or Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors: are medications that block the production of the natural chemical ACE that narrow the blood vessel, thus relaxing the blood vessels.
    • ARB or Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers: are also medications that block the natural chemical that narrows the blood vessels.
      The doctor might prescribe the following medications in combination with the above medications for effectively treating hypertension.
    • Alpha Blockers: are medications that reduce the nerve impulses to the blood vessels to reduce the effect of natural blood vessel narrowing chemical.
    • Alpha-Beta Blockers: reduce the nerve impulses to reduce blood vessel narrowing as well as slow down the heartbeat reducing the amount of blood pumped through the vessels.
    • Beta Blockers: reduce the work of the heart by opening up the blood vessels leading to a slower beating heat and less force.
    • Aldosterone Antagonists: block the natural chemical responsible for salt and fluid retention that might lead to high blood pressure.
    • Renin Inhibitors: slow down the kidney’s production of the enzyme renin, which is known to start a chain reaction of chemical steps to increase blood pressure.

 

BLOOD PRESSURE CATEGORY SYSTOLIC mm Hg (upper number)   DIASTOLIC mm Hg(lower number)
NORMAL LESS THAN 120 and LESS THAN 80
ELEVATED 120-129 and LESS THAN 80
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (HYPERTENSION) STAGE 1  130-139 or 80-89

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (HYPERTENSION)STAGE 2

140 OR HIGHER or 90 OR HIGHER
HYPERTENSIVE CRISIS HIGHER THAN 180  and/or HIGHER THAN 120

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