Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated.
Hypertension usually does not cause symptoms initially, but sustained hypertension over time is a major risk factor for many deadly complications. Why?
when there’s too much pressure on the walls of the blood vessels, they might end up bursting somewhere in the body causing severe damage to the surrounding tissues.
Hypertension is classified as either primary (essential) hypertension or secondary hypertension. About 90–95% of cases are categorized as primary hypertension, defined as high blood pressure with no obvious underlying cause, except maybe the unhealthy lifestyle. The other 5–10% of cases are categorized as secondary hypertension, which is due to an identifiable cause, such as chronic kidney disease, narrowing of the aorta or kidney arteries, or an endocrine disorder.
If you ignore your blood pressure because you think symptoms will alert you to the problem, you are taking a dangerous chance with your life. Everybody needs to measure their blood pressure on a regular basis, and to prevent high blood pressure from developing.
So, are there any warning signs for hyertension?
There’s a common misconception that people with high blood pressure, will experience symptoms such as nervousness, sweating, difficulty sleeping or facial flushing. The truth is that hypertension is very often a symptomless condition.
You should not try to evaluate your symptoms in an attempt to self-diagnose high blood pressure. Diagnosis should only be made by your doctor.
Headaches or the lack of headaches are not reliable indicators of your blood pressure. Instead, please work with your doctor and know your numbers.
Except with hypertensive crisis, nosebleeds are not a reliable indicator for hypertention. If your nosebleeds are frequent (more than once a week) or if they are heavy or hard to stop, you should talk to your doctor.
Keep in mind that nosebleeds can be caused by a variety of factors.
A variety of symptoms may be indirectly related to HBP but are warning signs that need medical assessment. For example:
Blood spots in the eyes
Floaters in the eyes are not related to high blood pressure. However, an ophthalmologist may be able to detect damage to the optic nerve caused by untreated HBP.
Facial flushing occurs when blood vessels in the face dilate. While facial flushing may occur while your blood pressure is higher than usual, HBP is not the cause of facial flushing.
Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination and trouble walking are all warning signs of a stroke. HBP is one of the leading risk factors for stroke.
When blood pressure readings rise to dangerously high levels (systolic of 180 or higher OR diastolic of 110 or higher) you may notice obvious symptoms. In addition to extreme readings of blood pressure, if you experience:
Shortness of breath
This is called a hypertensive crisis, and emergency medical treatment is needed.
Much of the disease burden of high blood pressure is experienced by people who are not labeled as hypertensive. Lifestyle changes are recommended to lower blood pressure, before starting drug therapy. Mainly:
maintain normal body weight for adults (e.g. body mass index 20–25 kg/m2)
reduce dietary sodium intake to engage in regular aerobic physical activity such as brisk walking (≥30 min per day, most days of the week)
limit alcohol consumption to no more than 3 units/day in men and no more than 2 units/day in women
consume a diet rich in fruit and vegetables (e.g. at least five portions per day);
Effective lifestyle modification may lower blood pressure as much as an individual antihypertensive drug. Combinations of two or more lifestyle modifications can achieve even better results.
Resistant hypertension is defined as hypertension that remains above goal blood pressure in spite of using, at once, three antihypertensive medications belonging to different drug classes. Low adherence to treatment is an important cause of resistant hypertension. Resistant hypertension may also represent the result of chronic high activity of the autonomic nervous system; this concept is known as “neurogenic hypertension”.
What are the causes?
Resistant hypertension has several possible causes, including one or more other underlying medical conditions. In addition to treating RH with medications, doctors typically investigate secondary causes, such as:
Abnormalities in the hormones that control blood pressure.
Artery-clogging plaque in blood vessels that nourish the kidneys.
Sleep problems, such as obstructive sleep apnea.
Obesity and heavy alcohol intake.
If undiscovered, hypertension can be a serious health problem. Get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis, and stick to a healthy lifestyle to prevent it.
all the best.