High blood pressure, or hypertension, happens when your blood pressure increases to unhealthy levels. Your blood pressure measurement takes into consideration how quickly blood is passing through your veins and the amount of resistance the blood meets while it’s pumping.
Narrow arteries increase resistance. The narrower your arteries get, the higher your blood pressure will be. Over the long term, increased pressure can create health issues, including heart disease.
READ ALSO:WHAT IS ATRIAL FIBRILLATION
Hypertension is quite frequent. In fact, 75 million Americans are living with the condition. Hypertension may occur over the course of several years. During those years, you may not notice any signs. Even without symptoms, high blood pressure can cause damage to your arteries and blood vessels.
Early detection is vital. Regular blood pressure readings can assist you and your doctor notice any changes. If your blood pressure is elevated, your doctor may check your blood pressure over a few weeks to see if the number stays up or falls back to normal levels.
Treatment for hypertension is inclusive of both prescription medication and healthy lifestyle changes. If the condition isn’t not treated, it could lead to health issues, including heart attack and stroke.
What are the symptoms of hypertension?
Hypertension is mostly a silent condition. Many people will not notice any symptoms. It may take years or even decades for the condition to get to levels severe enough that symptoms become obvious. Even then, these symptoms may be associated other issues.
Symptoms of hypertension include:
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- visual changes
- blood in the urine
These symptoms don’t happen in everyone with hypertension, but waiting for a signs of this condition to appear could be fatal.
The best way to know if you have hypertension is to get regular blood pressure readings. Most doctors’ offices will take a blood pressure reading at every appointment visits.
If you only have a yearly physical, talk to your doctor about your risks for hypertension and other readings you may assistance to help watch your blood pressure.
For example, if you have a family history of heart disease or have risk factors for developing the health condition, you may need to have your blood pressure checked twice a year. This will help you and your doctor stay on top of any possible situations before they become problematic.
What causes high blood pressure?
There are two types of hypertension. And each type has a different cause.
Primary hypertension is also known as essential hypertension. This kind of hypertension develops over time with no identifiable reason.
Researchers are still uncertain what mechanisms cause blood pressure to slowly increase. A combination of factors may play a role. These factors are inclusive of:
Genes: Some people are genetically predisposed to hypertension. This may be because of gene mutations or genetic abnormalities inherited from your parents.
Physical changes: If something in your body goes wrong, you may begin experiencing issues throughout your body. High blood pressure may be one of these issues.
For example, it’s considered that changes in your kidney function may upset the body’s natural balance of salts and fluid. This change may cause your body’s blood pressure to rise.
Environment: In the course of time, unhealthy lifestyle choices like lack of physical activity and poor diet can take their toll on your body. Lifestyle choices can result in weight problems. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for hypertension.
Secondary hypertension often happens quickly and can become more severe than primary hypertension. Several conditions that may cause secondary hypertension include:
- kidney disease
- obstructive sleep apnea
- congenital heart defects
- problems with your thyroid
- side effects of medications
- use of illegal drugs
- alcohol abuse or chronic use
- adrenal gland problems
- certain endocrine tumors
Diagnosing high blood pressure
Diagnosing hypertension is as easy as taking a blood pressure reading. Most doctors’ offices check blood pressure as a part of a routine visit. If you don’t get a blood pressure reading at your next appointment, ask for one.
READ ALSO:WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT CHOLESTEROL
If your blood pressure is increased, your doctor may request you have more readings over the course of a few days or weeks. A hypertension diagnosis is rarely given after just one reading. Your doctor has to see evidence of a sustained problem. That’s because environmental conditions can add to increased blood pressure. Plus, blood pressure levels change throughout the day.
If your blood pressure remains high, your doctor will likely conduct more tests to rule out underlying conditions. These tests include:
- urine test
- cholesterol screening
- test of your heart’s electrical activity
These tests can assist your doctor identify any secondary issues causing your elevated blood pressure.
During this time your doctor may start treating your hypertension. Early treatment may reduce your risk of lasting damage.