Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

High Blood Pressure

Whenever your heart beats, it pumps out blood into the arteries, blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. The blood pressure is highest when the heart beats, pumping the blood, this is called systolic pressure. When the heart is at rest, between beats, the blood pressure falls. This is the diastolic pressure. It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

High blood pressure, also called hypertension in an adult occurs when the blood pressure is greater than or equal to 140 mm Hg systolic pressure or greater than or equal to 90 mm Hg diastolic pressure. 120/80 mm Hg or lower is normal blood pressure and 120 and 139 mm Hg systolic or between 80 and 89 mm Hg diastolic is prehypertension.

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Hypertension directly increases the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. One can control high blood pressure through healthy lifestyle habits and taking medicines, if needed.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

Most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even if blood pressure readings gets too high. Some symptoms associated with early-stage high blood pressure may include;

  • Dull headaches
  • Dizzy spells
  • Nosebleeds than normal

These signs and symptoms typically don’t occur until high blood pressure has reached an advanced or possibly life-threatening stage.

Causes of High Blood Pressure

There’s no detectable cause of hypertension in about 90 to 95 percent of high blood pressure cases. This type of high blood pressure, called essential hypertension or primary hypertension, appears to develop gradually over many years. The other 5 percent to 10 percent of high blood pressure cases are caused by a rudimentary condition. This type of high blood pressure, called secondary hypertension, appears suddenly and cause higher blood pressure than primary hypertension. Various conditions can lead to secondary hypertension, such as tumours of the adrenal gland, kidney abnormalities, or certain congenital heart defects.

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Secondary hypertension may also be caused by certain type of medications such as over-the-counter pain relievers, cold remedies, birth control pills, decongestants, and some prescription drugs. Various illegal drugs, including cocaine and amphetamines can also lead to increase blood pressure.

Risk factors

The risk factors for high blood pressure are smoking, obesity, age, excessive intake of alcohol, stress and hereditary. The secondary causes include disease conditions that can result in high blood pressure. These are kidney diseases and hormonal diseases such as hypothyroidism.

Controlling High Blood Pressure

  • Reduce weight if obese, maintain a normal body weight
  • Quit smoking- – tobacco causes injures to the walls of the blood vessel and accelerates the process of hardening of the arteries
  • Avoid excessive intake of alcohol – Alcohol intake can raise your blood pressure even if you are healthy. If you must drink, moderation is the key.
  • Excessive intake of salt worsen high blood pressure.
  • Eat a healthy diet containing soluble fibre, such as fruit and vegetables.
  • Avoid high fat foods.
  • Avoid coffee and colas
  • Regular medical checkups
  • Reduce stress and relax after work – Endeavor to rest properly after a hard day’s work. Practice healthy coping techniques, such as muscle relaxation and deep breathing. Get plenty of sleep.

Changing your lifestyle can go a long way toward controlling high blood pressure. But sometimes lifestyle changes aren’t enough. In addition to diet and exercise, the doctor may recommend medication to lower blood pressure. The medication that would be prescribed by your doctor depends on the stage of high blood pressure and whether or not you also have other medical conditions. To reduce the number of doses you need a day, which can reduce side effects, the doctor may prescribe a combination of low-dose medications rather than larger doses of one single drug.

Reducing sodium in the diet

  • Develop an inclination for low salt food by using very little or no salt at all when preparing your meals. Avoid using table salt.
  • Avoid fast foods and restaurant foods as they use very high salt.
  • Avoid ketchup, pickles, olives, all sauces, commercially prepared or cured meats or fish, canned foods (eat fresh foods), salted nuts, peanut butter, chips, popcorn and snacks.

Diet suggestions:

  • Low-sodium diets are prescribed to help control high blood pressure. These diets limit the amount of sodium in the diet to less than 2 grams daily, that is about half the amount of sodium in the average diet.
  • Use herbs and spices instead of salt for seasoning. Use garlic, lemon and lime juice, garlic, dill weed, basil, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, or vinegar to improve the flavour and aroma of foods.
  • Add a pinch of sugar or a squeeze of lemon juice to bring out the flavour in fresh vegetables.
    Rinse canned vegetables with tap water before cooking.
  • Substitute unsalted, polyunsaturated cooking medium for butter or ghee.


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