Around 1.28 billion adults between the ages of 30 and 79, worldwide, have high blood pressure, Many people go undiagnosed for years, not realising that their symptoms are caused by hypertension.
What Is Hypertension?
Your blood pressure is the amount of force your blood exerts against the walls of your blood vessels. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common condition in which the force of blood against the walls of your arteries is consistently too high. This, is as opposed to hypotension, where the force of your blood against the walls of your arteries is consistently too low.
This increased pressure can strain the heart and lead to serious health problems if left untreated. Hypertension does often go untreated for years and is a leading cause of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease worldwide.
Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure may not present noticeable symptoms in its early stages. However, as it progresses, you may experience headaches, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, and blurred vision.
Who Is More At Risk Of High Blood Pressure?
Hypertension is a major contributor to premature death on a global scale, but it is more prevalent in low-income and middle-income countries.
Poor dietary habits high in salt, saturated fats, and cholesterol can contribute to high blood pressure. As can a lack of physical activity, excessive alcohol consumption, and smoking.
The following factors might put you more at risk of suffering from high blood pressure:
- Being overweight or obese
- A family history of hypertension
- Blood pressure tends to increase with age
- Physical inactivity
- Chronic stress and an unhealthy response to stress
- Chronic kidney disease:
- Sleep apnea
- Thyroid disorders
- Some medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), decongestants, and certain antidepressants
- Hormonal conditions, such as Cushing’s syndrome\
- Conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, and atherosclerosis
How Is High Blood Pressure Diagnosed?
You would be surprised to know that almost half of all people with hypertension, around 46%, don’t even realize they have it. Sometimes, it only gets noticed when you visit the doctor for other reasons.
When you go in for a checkup, your doctor will use a machine called a sphygmomanometer. It’s got an inflatable cuff that goes around your upper arm, a bulb to pump it up, and a gauge or digital display to read the pressure.
The reading gives you two numbers – systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The first reading is the higher of the two numbers and shows the pressure when your heart pumps or contracts. The second reading is the lower number and tells you the pressure when your heart rests between beats.
Your doctor will compare these numbers to established guidelines to see if your blood pressure is normal or if it’s straying into hypertension territory. A healthy and normal blood pressure reading usually sits below 120/80 mmHg. It’s essential to keep an eye on these numbers to stay on top of your health.
What Are The Treatment Options For High Blood Pressure?
Chronically high blood pressure can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Depending on the severity of your condition, your healthcare provider may recommend lifestyle changes, such as adopting a heart-healthy diet, increasing physical activity, and quitting smoking. In some cases, medication may also be prescribed to help lower blood pressure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes - in fact, regular moderate exercise is a recommendation for managing hypertension.
In general, it is a good idea to have your blood pressure checked every two years, but if you have a family history of hypertension, or if you are at risk, then more regular checkups will be beneficial to manage the condition.