High Blood Pressure - Symptoms
High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is pressure exerted on the walls of the arteries by blood flowing in the circulatory system. The primary problem of high blood pressure is its frequent occurrence. More than a third of Americans, one in five Canadians and one quarter of the UK population suffer from high blood pressure. Blood pressure fluctuates over the course of a day, but it has been determined that ideal blood pressure at rest is 120/80 mmHg. High blood pressure is referred to blood pressure higher than 140/90 mmHg.
Causes of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is classified according to its causes as primary and secondary high blood pressure. With primary high blood pressure, the factors responsible for the condition are not known. However, it is assumed that an unhealthy lifestyle, excesses fat intake, smoking, alcohol consumption and a lack of exercise are responsible. Secondary high blood pressure occurs on the basis of another ongoing illness such as kidney disease, adrenal diseases, hormonal disorders, diabetes, heart disease and others.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
Many people do not know that they suffer from high blood pressure as it often has no manifestations. In these cases, high blood pressure is discovered accidentally during a regular physical examination. If symptoms do appear, they can include headaches, restlessness, fatigue, dizziness or the feeling of pressure in the temples. The patient may also complain of heart palpitations, nose bleeds, irritability or mood changes. These symptoms usually appear during a rapid increase in blood pressure. Most people, however, experience a gradual increase in pressure; therefore they often do not experience any symptoms.
Consequences of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure needs to be treated as soon as possible, especially due to the possibility of the development of a range of complications. Consequences can be very severe and life-threatening. In general, the higher the blood pressure the more severe the consequences. Untreated high blood pressure can lead to myocardial infarction, stroke, narrowing of the blood vessels in the kidneys resulting in kidney damage, or ischemic diseases of the lower limbs. High blood pressure can also cause damage to smaller blood vessels and cause nose bleeds, bursting of a blood vessel in the eye or kidneys, as well as in the brain, leading to a stroke. Last but not least, untreated high blood pressure can lead to heart failure.
Diagnosing High Blood Pressure
Diagnosing high blood pressure is not difficult and is based on its measuring with the help of a sphygmomanometer (blood pressure meter). Often, high blood pressure is discovered accidentally during a regular physical examination. In the event of a high blood pressure reading, the measurement should be repeated in order to eliminated stress or anxiety of the patient upon a visit to the doctor. This is known as white coat syndrome. The patient can also be asked to measure his or her own blood pressure at home over a period of time, and record each reading. This can eliminate stress reactions from the doctor’s visit and its influence on the patient’s blood pressure.
Treating High Blood Pressure
Treatment of high blood pressure is based on conservative and pharmacological methods. Conservative treatment includes weight loss, incorporating healthy eating habits with a lower fat intake and limited salt intake. It is also important to abstain from alcohol and smoking. Pharmacological treatment includes the administration of medications from different groups, which lower blood pressure by a variety of mechanisms. These mainly include diuretics, ACE-inhibitors, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and others. However, it is important to remember that these medications usually need to be taken for life. In the event of secondary high blood pressure, the illness that causes high blood pressure must be treated first.
Preventing High Blood Pressure
In terms of preventing high blood pressure, it is recommended that one modifies his or her diet, gets enough exercise and avoids smoking and excess alcohol consumption. It is also best to avoid stressful situations. Certain herbal products may help, such as aloe-vera. In the event that a patient suffers from one of the above mentioned illnesses that lead to high blood pressure, it is important to treat this illness as soon as possible.