High Blood Pressure (also referred to as Hypertension) is when the blood pressure exerted against the walls of the arteries is consistently high. The American Heart Association states that approximately 85 million people suffer from high blood pressure in the United States. That’s about one in every three adults. If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to numerous health problems including stroke, kidney disease, vision loss, and heart failure.
In this article, we discuss the types, causes, and management of high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is of two main types:
- Primary/Essential Hypertension: There is no single, identifiable cause for this type of high blood pressure. It slowly develops over many years.
- Secondary Hypertension: This type of high blood pressure appears suddenly and has many underlying conditions including thyroid and kidney problems, adrenal gland tumors, congenital defects in the blood vessels, drug abuse including amphetamines and cocaine, and sleep apnea.
Causes and Management
An overwhelming percentage of high blood pressure cases are due to essential or primary hypertension. Other contributing and risk factors include:
- Being obese or overweight: Having excessive body mass increases the blood levels required to supply nutrients and oxygen to the tissues. This increase leads to additional pressure being applied on the artery walls.
- Being physically inactive: Not engaging in any vigorous physical activities or sports leads to higher heart rates which essentially mean that the heart has to pump harder leading to stronger contractions and force applied on the arteries. It also contributes to obesity.
- Genetics: Hypertension runs in the family.
- Age: The risk of hypertension increases with age especially in men until the age of 65. Women face a higher risk after menopause.
- Race: People of African heritage and South-east Asian descent have higher rates of strokes, kidney failures, and heart attacks as compared to Amerindian (indigenous Americans) and Caucasian ancestries.
- Too much salt and too little potassium: Excessive sodium causes the body to retain fluids which increases the blood pressure levels, whereas potassium helps to balance out the sodium levels in cells.
- Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption damages the heart.
- Stress: Stress leads to increased blood pressure.
- Smoking: In addition to raising one’s blood pressure, smoking or chewing tobacco damages the lining in artery walls which causes them to narrow and further increase the risk of heart disease.
If you find any of these habits or symptoms as part of your health and lifestyle, then it’s time to make a change. Be conscious of your diet; join a fitness club, cut down on alcohol, engage in meditation to reduce stress levels. Take the necessary steps to ensure a long and healthy life, you owe it to yourself.
Symptoms of hypertension should be treated immediately to prevent any life-threatening complications down the line. Stripes Primary Care provides medical care services in Mesa, AZ and is home to the latest medical equipment and qualified doctors that provide patients with the services required to bring down high blood pressure levels and move towards a healthier lifestyle. Contact them today.