Many individuals don’t know they have hypertension. Oftentimes called the “silent killer,” this condition rarely causes symptoms even if it inflicts serious damage to the body. If left untreated, it can lead to visual problems and worst heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. Diagnosis of hypertension requires immediate medical treatment.
Blood pressure refers to the force pushing the blood to the blood vessels throughout the body. It can be compared to an air in a tire, where blood (air) fills the arteries (tire) to a certain limit. Too much pressure of the air can cause damage to the tire in the same way too much blood pressure can damage healthy arteries leading to heart diseases and stroke.
Meaning of Hypertension
Blood pressure is measured in mmHg or millimeters of Mercury. Normal blood pressure of a healthy adult is 120/80 mmHg. When BP is increased over a period of time or more than 140/90 mmHg, hypertension takes place.
How is Blood Pressure Measured?
Testing for Hypertension is done with the use of sphygmomanometer and stethoscope. The blood pressure band is wrapped around the upper arm and air is pumped into the band. When air is released in the band, blood pressure measurement can be obtained.
BP reading higher than 120 to 139 over 80 to 89 mmHg is considered as prehypertension. Reading of 140 to 159 over 90 to 99 mmHg is Stage I Hypertension. Stage II hypertension has a reading of 160 or more over 100 mmHg or more.
Who Are at Risk for Developing High Blood Pressure?
Although hypertension is common, it is more likely in the following individuals:
- Have a family history of hypertension, heart disease or diabetes
- Age more than 55 years old
- Not physically activity (sedentary lifestyle)
- Excessive drinker
- People who prefer more salt in their food
- Frequent use of some medications such as NSAIDs, decongestants
What are the Symptoms of Hypertension?
- Nausea and vomiting
- Body weakness or malaise
- Vision changes
- Chest pains
Presence of these symptoms should be immediately reported to the physician so prompt medications can be prescribed.
How to Prevent Hypertension?
Weight Management. High blood pressure can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight. Overweight predisposes an individual to developing hypertension. Weight loss no matter how small the amount is a great help in the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure.
Regular Exercise. Following regular exercise routine is another way to prevent hypertension. Physically active individuals have lower risk developing this condition. It is important to keep in mind how exercise should be done regularly. It does not matter if the routines are light or heavy what matters is if it is done consistently.
Reducing Salt in the Diet. Salt works on your kidneys to make your body hold on to more water. Eating salty foods increases sodium in the bloodstream reducing the ability of the kidney to excrete the water. The result is a higher BP due to extra fluid on the body and the increase workload of the blood vessels. Hence, cutting back on salt prevents BP from rising.
Moderate Alcohol Drinking. Too much alcohol intake increases blood pressure. Limiting intake of alcoholic beverages to no more than two drinks a day is ideal.
Stress Reduction. One culprit that increases an individual’s blood pressure is stress. Steering clear from stressful situations or application of relaxation techniques can help maintain a normal BP.
Fortunately, hypertension can be controlled. The first step in doing so is by having your BP regularly checked.