Hypertension - Treatment
Blood flows inside arteries under a certain pressure. This pressure, known as blood pressure, is essential in order for the blood to be able to reach every part of the body. Normal blood pressure values are between 110/65 mmHg and 140/90 mmHg. If blood pressure exceeds 140/90 mmHg, it is a sign of hypertension, or high blood pressure. Hypertension must be treated in order to prevent serious complications that could put a patient's life in danger.
The Cause of Hypertension
There are two types of hypertension, which can be differentiated according to its cause. These are primary and secondary hypertension.
- Primary hypertension is the most common type. It does not have a known cause, though there are a number of factors contributing to this condition. It is therefore a condition with multifactorial causes. Primary hypertension occurs primarily as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle. This includes excess consumption of salt and fats, not enough fruits and vegetables, smoking, excess consumption of alcohol, stress and a lack of physical activity.
- Secondary hypertension occurs as a result of other underlying illnesses. These include heart disease, kidney diseases, adrenal and hormonal disorders.
Manifestations of Hypertension
Hypertension is a disease that may not have any manifestations. This is why people often do not know they suffer from this disease and find out only during an unrelated visit to the doctor. The symptoms of hypertension typically include headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, pressure in the temples and frequent nose bleeds.
Complications of Hypertension
Hypertension is a disease that must treated, as elevated blood pressure can have detrimental effects on blood vessels and organs. Hypertension leads to the more rapid development of atherosclerosis, where fat collects on arterial walls, narrowing their lumen. This can lead to organs not receiving enough blood. Hypertension can also result in myocardial infarction, stroke, heart failure and kidney damage, leading to their gradual failure.
Hypertension is diagnosed based on blood pressure values taken with a sphygmomanometer. Measurements usually take place at every doctor's visit. Measurements should take place when the patient is calm and at rest. This is important in order to eliminate false values due to emotions or prior physical stress. When blood pressure is found to be high, it should be measured again in order to eliminate so-called white coat syndrome. This is a syndrome where a patient's blood pressure increases due to nervousness or stress from visiting the doctor. If a patient has a blood pressure meter at home, he or she may be asked to take regular measurements at the same time of day, and then write them down to later be assessed by a doctor.
Hypertension must be treated in order to prevent further complications. Treatment of hypertension can be conservative of pharmacological. If possible, conservative methods, i.e. without medications, are given priority. It is important to mention that for successful treatment, the patient's cooperation is essential.
Conservative Treatment for Hypertension
Because most patients suffer from hypertension as a result of their own bad choices, the goal of hypertension treatment is to eliminate all unfavourable factors. This is essential for the success of further treatment methods. The conservative treatment of hypertension requires the limitation or complete elimination of fatty and salty foods. Patients suffering from hypertension should not add salt to their meals. It is also very important to maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. It has been proven that physical activity alone reduces blood pressure over a period of time, and the effects are multiple times greater when combined with weight loss. It goes without saying that smoking should also be eliminated and alcohol consumption should be kept at a minimum. If these lifestyle changes are insufficient, pharmacological treatment is necessary.
Pharmacological Treatment for Hypertension
Pharmacological treatment for hypertension rests in the administration of blood pressure lowering medications, so-called antihypertensives. There are a number of groups of medications that can be used when treating hypertension. The groups differ from each other in the mechanism with which they reduce blood pressure. The groups are often prescribed in certain combinations. One group of medications are beta-blockers, which lower blood pressure by acting on the heart. Medications from another group lower blood pressure by preventing the formation of certain particles that increase blood pressure under normal circumstances. Blood pressure can also be lowered by prescribing medications that widen blood vessels, i.e. by vasodilation. There are a variety of medications that only need to be taken once a day, though they are usually needed for life. The choice of medications or the combination of certain groups of medications is determined by a doctor based on other possible illnesses and their severity.
The prevention of hypertension relies on a healthy lifestyle. This includes a healthy, balanced diet with enough fruits, vegetables and fiber, and limited amount of fat. Adding salt to meals is not recommended as salt is typically already present. Because hypertension often occurs in obese individuals, losing weight is essential in order to lower blood pressure. The best prevention of hypertension is regular physical activity. Aerobic activities are best, such as running, swimming, aerobics or cycling, however walking regularly is sufficient.
In conclusion, it is important to mention that not all patients are aware of the significance of their actions in the development of hypertension. By following the guidelines mentioned above, one can completely prevent the development of hypertension, or at least delay it significantly, and it is also one of the conditions for effective pharmacological treatment. Hypertension and its complications are not the only problems that can be avoided; lung cancer from smoking, joint and heart problems from obesity and many other illnesses can be prevented as well. It is important to remember that most hypertension cases requiring pharmacological treatment are for life. The danger from long-term high blood pressure should not be underestimated.