What is Hypertension?
This is an elevated Blood Pressure (BP). It is a chronic medical condition, with no cure.
What is Blood pressure?
Blood Pressure (BP) is the force of the blood against the walls of the blood vessels as it flows through them. The more pressure the blood exerts on the walls the higher the blood pressure
What blood pressure is normal?
A normal blood pressure is 90- 119/60-79. Hypertension is defined as readings greater than or equals to 140/90. Readings of 120- 139/80-89 have been defined as pre-hypertension. This is an American classification for people whose blood pressure are elevated above normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as hypertensive.
Are there any symptoms ofhigh blood pressure?
Often there are no symptoms. However, symptoms that may occur include headaches, visual disturbances, irregular heartbeat, nosebleeds, tiredness, confusion, chest pain and buzzing in the ears.
Why is Hypertension Important?
Hypertension is important because of the complications that arise when it is not treated or if it is poorly treated. The possible complications include:
- Kidney disease
- Brain damage
- Heart disease
- Loss of vision
- Heart attack
- Damage to the blood vessels known atherosclerosis
How is hypertension treated?
It can be controlled with medication and lifestyle changes/non pharmacological method. These lifestyle changes have been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and are part of the British hypertensive society guidelines for the treatment of hypertension and pre-hypertension
The non-pharmacological methods include:
- Weight reduction
- Regular aerobic exercise (e.g. walking)
- Reducing salt in the diet
- Diet rich in fruits, vegetable and low fat foods
- Discontinuing tobacco use
- Discontinuing alcohol consumption
- Reducing stress
The medications given are more commonly known as antihypertensive drugs. The drug is usually determined by your doctor. It depends on the severity of the hypertension and the presence or absence of any complication. The drugs once started are often continued for life unless advised by your doctor.
Can Hypertension be prevented and how?
Yes it can. There are various lifestyle changes which one can make to reduce their risk of developing hypertension. This is especially important if there is a positive family history or if you have already been diagnosed with pre-hypertension.
Firstly, all people over the age of 18 years should have regular blood pressure checks. If you are overweight, weight loss is strongly advised. Extra weight puts a strain on your heart. Regular exercise, for at least 30 minutes, 3-4 times a weak reduces the risk of hypertension. Avoid smoking. Consume no more than 1-2 units of alcohol a day. Diabetics should aim to keep their sugar level under control. Finally, avoid and try to minimize stress when possible.