Healthy Heart

What is High Blood Pressure?

What is High Blood Pressure?

Key Takeaways

  • Hypertension is the silent killer. 
  • High blood pressure is any reading above 140/90mmHg.
  • If left untreated, high blood pressure leads to serious complications. 

What is High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure is a condition whereby an individual’s blood vessels become strained due to high pressure by the blood flowing in them. It’s a dangerous condition not because it has any negative side-effects but because of the potential problems it may lead to. In fact, high blood pressure is only the first step to the development of other blood vessels - related conditions like aneurysms and heart disease.

How Do You Know You Have HBP?

Hypertension does not have any obvious symptoms, hence why ‘the silent killer’ is what it is nicknamed. As a matter of fact, most people who are diagnosed with hypertension did not even know they had it until they found out during routine medical checkup, and often the checkup was for a completely different problem that led them to see a doctor. It is also important to note that some people who have hypertension don’t experience any complications from the condition. Therefore, it is of great importance to identify the risk factors in order to determine whether you need to be checked for HBP.

The only way to determine whether you have HBP is to have your blood pressure checked. It is a very simple procedure involving a cuff placed around the arm that determines the rate of your heartbeat and the blood pressure. The procedure may be done on both arms just to confirm the results, but it’s not always necessary.

The test determines the systolic pressure of your heart against the resistance in the blood vessels, hence the two figures. Both are measured in mm/Hg. Average or normal blood pressure should be around 90/60mmHg to 120/80mmHg. Any reading above 140/90mmHg is considered high and confirms the patient is positive for HBP. However, athletes and other physically active individuals may have a reading below 90/60mmHg, which is excellent and nothing to be worried about.

You need to go have a checkup if you notice the following:

  • You suffer from severely painful headaches.
  • You notice there is blood in your urine.
  • You are having chest pain.
  • Pounding in your chest, neck, or ears.
  • You are having trouble breathing.
  • You are suffering from fatigue.

Common Causes of High Blood Pressure

There are no exact causes of high blood pressure, but here are a few things which can lead to HBP.

  • Consumption of excess salt.
  • Your body lacks sufficient exercise.
  • Excess of alcohol consumption.
  • If you are overweight.

There are some risk factors for HBP that the patient has no control over such as:

  • Your progression in age.
  • Hereditary (if one or both parents have HBP then you are likely to get the same).
  • Ethnic Origin (People from certain ethnic regions have greater possibility of having HBP).

Is There a Cure for HBP?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for high blood pressure that can make the problem go away completely. However, it is quite easy to control the condition through simple lifestyle changes and certain medications. Careful observance of these strategies can keep the condition from creating further complications.

Complications with High Blood Pressure

If hypertension is left unchecked and continues to rise, it eventually leads to various complications. The most common complications are heart attack and heart failure. When the blood vessels are affected, an aneurysm can occur which can subsequently rupture and lead to severe internal bleeding. Aneurysms are life-threatening conditions, especially when a major blood vessel ruptures in areas such as the brain or abdomen, this often leads to death.

There are some people who will still have high blood pressure during a check-up despite taking all the necessary measures mentioned above. This condition is referred to as resistant hypertension. For people who suffer with this condition, it may be required that they take different medications at the same time to keep their blood pressure under control. These cases are often the result of secondary hypertension due to an underlying condition that has yet to be identified. The doctor should try to identify what it is. In some instances, the trigger that spikes the blood pressure may be the result of a medication that is taken by the individual for a different condition, this is a possibility that must be considered.

HBP and Diet

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, more commonly known as the DASH diet, is one of the recommended diets for reducing HBP. The DASH diet involves reducing your intake of fat, sodium, and alcohol.

The following are the best foods to help lower blood pressure:

  • Leafy Greens are rich in potassium, which allow the removal of excess sodium through your urine thus reducing blood pressure.
  • Beets contain nitrates which bring down blood pressure levels within 24 hours.
  • Bananas are inexpensive and one of the best snacks for those with HBP. They are loaded with potassium, which keeps your blood pressure under control.
  • Coconut water is known to reduce HBP. Consuming this natural drink every day for two weeks can significantly lower blood pressure as much as 24/15 mm Hg in some cases.
  • Cherry juice is capable of reducing systolic blood pressure up to 7 mmHg.

Herbs and HBP

If you are thinking of trying herbs for medicinal reasons, then it is advisable to consult a doctor first. Certain herbs can cause undesirable effects.

  • Adding Basil to your food helps keep blood pressure in check, though only for a brief period.
  • Flaxseed are rich in omega 3 fatty acid, which are known to reduce blood pressure.
  • Garlic can help keep control on blood pressure by causing your blood vessels to relax and dilate.
  • Ginger improves blood circulation and relax the muscles around the blood vessel.
  • Cinnamon, when added to your regular food, will do wonders for your body.

Recent studies have discovered that exposure to excess air pollution can cause HBP. Road noise has also been known to cause the condition. It is impossible to escape this as it is a part of routine life. Though you can carry out certain measures like covering you face with a scarf or making use of cotton ear plugs.