One of the many health problems that more and more people live with these days is hypertension. Also known as high blood pressure, this common condition usually catches up with individuals as they grow older. This happens when blood flows through your arteries with too much force and puts too much pressure on your arteries and blood vessels. When that happens, your heart needs to work harder and damage is caused to the blood vessels in your body.
High blood pressure is particularly damaging to the internal organs such as the brain and kidney where blood vessels become smaller and sensitive to pressure. When this is untreated over time, hypertension elevates your risk of developing stroke, heart disease, and kidney disease. Below is a guide for you understand hypertension better.
Symptoms of Hypertension
For many years, treatment for hypertension was not immediately given because not many people knew they had it. Its signs and symptoms are hard to spot, as such hypertension is also nicknamed the silent killer. The damage caused by untreated or uncontrolled hypertension are internally, such as progressive deterioration of your lungs, heart, brain, blood vessels, and kidneys. The danger is that it might take a devastating stroke event or a heart attack for individuals to realise that they should have taken hypertension seriously.
Fortunately, hypertension can be actively managed and monitored. The key indicator you can monitor is your blood pressure reading. Omron adopts the European Society of Hypertension (ESH) and of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) guidelines which defines hypertension as above/ equal to 135/85 reading taken at home. If you do a blood pressure check at home and the result shows 135/85, for example, you can take this as a sign that your blood pressure is high-normal and you may be considered as pre-hypertensive. This means while you do not yet have hypertension, your blood pressure is higher than what is said to be optimal for adults.
If you are living with hypertension or are at higher risk of hypertension, it is recommended for you to monitor your blood pressure at home. Find out more about the choices of Omron home blood pressure monitors available to you.
Pre-Hypertensive versus Hypertensive
If you are also showing symptoms of hypertension without it being full blown, you may already be classified as pre-hypertensive. These days, a growing number of individuals are becoming pre-hypertensive, showing symptoms of hypertension such as having blood pressure that is consistently above normal levels. If you are in this range, you may require a lifestyle change as a form of hypertension treatment. Weight loss is the most recommended lifestyle change to lower blood pressure.
If your blood pressure reading averages at 140/90 or higher, note that you still may not have any observable symptoms. When it goes up to 180/110, be warned – for you are already experiencing a hypertensive crisis. Take time to rest, and then check your blood pressure one more time. If the reading is still high, call your doctor or better yet, have someone drive you to the nearest hospital. These very obvious symptoms of hypertension can develop into a heart attack, stroke, dementia, or kidney damage. Other symptoms that may present in a crisis usually include shortness of breath, nosebleeds, severe headache, and anxiety.
Who are at Higher Risk of Hypertension?
Up until 45 years old, men are more predisposed to getting high blood pressure compared to women. As both sexes age, it becomes more common for women to have it when they reach 65 years old. If you are diabetic, then your risk is greater. 60% of individuals who have diabetes also have high blood pressure, thereby making this disease one of the key hypertension co-factors. If you have atrial fibrillation, you are also likely to have hypertension. Hypertension can also be genetically inherited – so even if you have the healthiest lifestyle possible this might still be a concern for you.
Feel like a potential candidate? Measure your blood pressure and know for sure. Here are some ways to manage hypertension effectively.
Lifestyle Matters: Salt, Stress, Smoke, Alcohol and Weight
A high-sodium diet raises blood pressure in the body because salt retains fluids, which in turn increases blood pressure in your body. Because sodium can result in the development of symptoms of hypertension, the American Heart Association or AHA cautions against eating more than 1,500 mg of sodium each day. One of the biggest culprits that are packed in sodium are processed foods, which is why it is best to limit its intake in your daily diet. I
nstead increase your intake of food that are beneficial to your overall heart health.
Stress also causes a spike in your blood pressure. Being stressed out may lead to other co-factors, such as more alcohol use, poor diet choices, or smoking – all of which contribute to high blood pressure.
Being overweight puts strain on your heart and thereby spike your blood pressure. Calorie control is necessary, as well as cutting down on unnecessary sugars and fatty foods. Even small improvements in your weight can improve your blood pressure significantly.
Pregnancy is also part of the list of hypertension co-factors, because of what is known as gestational hypertension. This may even happen to women who have never had high blood pressure. If proper treatment during pregnancy is not given, it may lead to preeclampsia, which can endanger the mother as well as the baby.
Knowledge is Power
Although hypertension is a silent killer, this does not mean that all we can do is to cross our fingers and hope we do not get it. For those who are set to “inherit” it from their parents and those who develop it as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle or other co-factors, knowing all you can about the condition and being intentional about managing it is the best way to get ahead and minimize its long term consequences.