High Blood Pressure - Treatment
Treating High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the pressure that flowing blood exerts on arterial walls. Blood pressure levels fluctuate throughout the day, though ideal blood pressure is 120/80mm Hg. If blood pressure reaches 140/90mmHg or higher, it is a sign of high blood pressure, medically known as hypertension. High blood pressure needs to be treated, as it can lead to a number of complications. Treatment of high blood pressure relies primarily on the patient's compliance with the doctor and his treatment method.
Causes of High Blood Pressure
The emergence of high blood pressure is caused by a number of factors. There are two types of high blood pressure, distinguished according to its cause.
- Primary high blood pressure is a form where there is no known cause, but it is thought to be the result of an unhealthy lifestyle, lack of physical activity, smoking, excess alcohol consumption and genetic predisposition.
- Secondary high blood pressure occurs as due to another underlying illness. This can include kidney disease, hormonal disorders, diabetes or heart disease.
Manifestations of High Blood Pressure
Manifestations of high blood pressure are unspecific, meaning that they are common symptoms of many other illnesses as well. Some patients do not experience any symptoms and are therefore often unaware that they are suffering from this condition. Symptoms of high blood pressure primarily include headaches, fatigue, feeling pressure in the temples and heart palpitations. Patients may also complain of frequent nose bleeds.
Diagnosing High Blood Pressure
It is not difficult to diagnose high blood pressure as simply measuring the patient's blood pressure with a sphygmomanometer is enough. The patient should be sitting down, calm and with a relaxed upper arm around which the cuff is wrapped. In the event that blood pressure is higher than 140/90 mmHg, the measurement should be repeated in order to eliminate a false reading due to the patient's possible anxiety of visiting the doctor (white coat syndrome). In such cases, blood pressure is higher for psychological reasons.
Treating High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a condition that must be treated. Treatment for high blood pressure should be divided into two broad categories; conservative and pharmacological treatment.
- Conservative treatment relies on lifestyle changes. Because high blood pressure sufferers are often overweight, it is important to take steps in order to lose weight. Dietary changes are also necessary in terms of reducing fat intake and increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Patients suffering from high blood pressure should not add extra salt to foods. Emphasis should be on eating regularly and avoiding smoking, alcohol and stressful situations. Regular exercise is also recommended.
- Pharmacological treatment consists of the regular administration of medications which reduce blood pressure in a variety of ways. These are various groups of medications that function slightly differently but all have the same result; lowering high blood pressure. These medications are called antihypertensives and they include diuretics, calcium channel blockers, ACE-inhibitors and beta-blockers. Usually, medications from all of the above groups are prescribed. It is important to keep in mind that pharmacological treatment is for life. In case high blood pressure is caused by another underlying illness, the illness must be treated first in order to lower the high blood pressure.
Preventing High Blood Pressure
Prevention is the avoidance of certain risk factors that can cause the particular disease. In the case of high blood pressure, they are measures taken that lower the risk of the developing this disease. Maintaining a healthy weight, regular physical activity and limiting fats and excess calories are recommended. A healthy balanced diet, with plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits and fiber is appropriate. It is also best not to add salt to food, as many already contain large amounts of it. A significant but avoidable risk factor for high blood pressure is smoking.