High Blood Pressure - Causes
Causes of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a very problematic illness as it affects about 20% of the world's population. Blood pressure is the pressure that flowing blood exerts on the walls of blood vessels, more specifically the arteries. Blood pressure is necessary so that blood can be propagated and it can reach all parts of the body. Blood pressure naturally fluctuates during the day, though it should not exceed certain limits. In the event that these limits are crossed, it is an indicator of high or low blood pressure. For high blood pressure, the limit has been determined to be 140/90 mmHg. If this value is higher at rest, it is an indicator of a pathological condition known as high blood pressure or hypertension.
Causes and Types of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a disease affecting younger and older individuals alike, and carries a number of complications. There are two types of high blood pressure which are divided primarily according to its cause. These are primary and secondary high blood pressure.
Primary High Blood Pressure
Primary high blood pressure affects about 90-95% of high blood pressure suffers. Medically it is also known as idiopathic hypertension, meaning the cause of the high blood pressure is not known. Usually it affects individuals between 35 and 45 years of age, and rarely can it be found in children. There are most likely a number of causes of primary high blood pressure, most likely including genetic influences, race and sex. Women tend to be affected by this illness more often than men. The external influences on the emergence of this disease is thought to be primarily stress, excess consumption of alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet rich in fats and salt.
Secondary High Blood Pressure
Secondary high blood pressure affects approximately 5-10% of all high blood pressure sufferers. It appears in younger individuals and its causes are other illnesses that the individual is already suffering from. It typically occurs alongside kidney diseases, diseases of the renal arteries, adrenal disorders, diabetes, heart disease or depression. It is therefore necessary to treat the primary illness in order to treat the high blood pressure.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can sometimes be completely asymptomatic and the patient may not know he or she is suffering from this disease. In most cases, high blood pressure develops gradually. Symptoms of high blood pressure include headaches, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, the feeling of pressure in the temples and sudden nose bleeds. Occasionally the disease can manifest itself by a rapid and sudden increase in blood pressure, which causes severe headaches, kidney damage and changes in the retina. These symptoms however, cannot be monitored subjectively, therefore it is important to visit a doctor with any suspicions of the disease.
Complications of High Blood Pressure
Long-term high blood pressure has a number of complications which should be avoided. In general, the higher the blood pressure the more severe the complications. The result of untreated high blood pressure can lead to myocardial infarction, stroke, narrowing of the renal arteries leading to kidney damage, or ischemic diseases of the lower limbs. High blood pressure can also damage smaller blood vessels and cause nose bleeds, burst blood vessels in the eye or kidneys and last but not least, burst blood vessels in the brain, resulting in a stroke. Untreated high blood pressure can also lead to heart failure.
Diagnosing High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is frequently detected accidentally during a regular physical examination. A diagnosis of high blood pressure is based on blood pressure readings taken with a sphygmomanometer. Nowadays, doctors use mercury or digital devices. The cuff of the sphygmomanometer is wrapped around the relaxed upper arm. In the event that a blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher is detected, the reading should be repeated in order to eliminate the possibility of so-called white coat syndrome. This is when the patient is anxious from visiting the doctor, causing his or her blood pressure to increase. In this case high blood pressure is temporary and is from a psychological basis.
Treatment of High Blood Pressure
Treatment of high blood pressure is important in order to help prevent a number of complications. Treatment of high blood pressure is determined according to the type of high blood pressure.
- Primary high blood pressure is treated with lifestyle changes in terms of consuming healthier meals lower in fat, losing weight, avoiding alcohol and smoking, limiting salt and avoiding stress. It is also necessary to administer antihypertensive medications, which include diuretics, ACE-inhibitors, beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers. These medications need to be taken for life.
- Secondary high blood pressure requires treatment of the primary illness that is causing the increase in blood pressure.
Preventing High Blood Pressure
Prevention of high blood pressure includes changes in one's eating habits, getting sufficient amounts of exercise, avoiding smoking and excess alcohol consumption. It is also beneficial to avoid stressful situations. Consuming certain herbal products such as Aloe-Vera may help. In the event that a patient suffers from one of the above mentioned illnesses which lead to high blood pressure, the illness must be treated without delay.