High Blood Pressure: Causes, Symptoms, and Management

What is blood pressure?

It is the force/pressure that our blood exerts against the walls of blood vessels or arteries.

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What is Hypertension/High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure that is above the normal range of 120/80 mm Hg is called high blood pressure.

Our blood pressure keeps changing throughout the day. However, a blood pressure consistently higher than normal is diagnosed as high blood pressure. Constant high blood pressure may lead to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke.

How is Blood Pressure (BP) Measured?

We use 2 numbers to measure blood pressure.

  1. Systolic Pressure / Upper Number:

This measures the pressure in arteries when our heart contracts or beats. The normal measure is less than 120.

  1. Diastolic Pressure / Lower Number:

This measures the pressure in arteries when our heart rests. The normal measure is less than 80.

Blood Pressure Ranges:

As per American Heart Association guidelines

Causes of High Blood Pressure:

  • Being overweight 
  • High salt consumption
  • Insulin resistance
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Chronic kidney disease and diabetes 

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure:

Usually, a person may not notice any symptoms of hypertension. That is why it is termed as “Silent Killer”. This situation can be really dangerous for the affected person and may cause many health complications.

In severe cases, high blood pressure may cause:-

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sleep problems
  • Headache
  • Nose bleeding

Health Complications:

Chronic hypertension/high blood pressure may cause certain serious health complications:

  • It causes plaque to develop on the walls of blood vessels and thus making them narrow. In this state, the heart has to pump harder to circulate blood. This condition can eventually lead to a heart attack and heart failure.
  • Causes bulge in the artery and its bursting
  • Kidney failure
  • Blindness
  • Stroke
  • Amputation
  • Death

Regular monitoring of blood pressure can help avoid these severe health complications.

Managing High Blood Pressure:

Adjustments in our lifestyle are the standard protection against high blood pressure. These include:

  1. Regular Exercise
    • A moderate-intensity physical exercise of 150 minutes a week or a high-intensity exercise of 75 minutes per week
    • Exercise may be in the form of walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming
  2. Healthy Diet 

A heart-healthy diet can help you control high blood pressure. 

  • Reducing salt consumption is very helpful in managing blood pressure levels. The high use of sodium causes high blood pressure. Salt in our diet is the primary source of sodium. 

American Heart Association recommends daily consumption of sodium as under

  • Less than 2300 milligrams (1 teaspoon approx.) for people having no hypertension
  • Less than 1500 mg for the people suffering from hypertension

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  • Eating more vegetables and fruits and lower amount of saturated fats
  • Eat more fiber, whole grain, cereals, pulses, nuts, fish, poultry, low-fat dairy products, olive oil
  • Avoid animal fats, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, processed food and fast foods
  1. Managing Stress

Reducing stress in life also helps control high blood pressure. The following techniques help us relieve stress:

  • Long walks
  • Warm baths
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  1. Manage body weight

Being overweight also causes high blood pressure, hence a balanced low calorie diet helps maintain normal body weight and reduces the risks of hypertension

  1. Quit or minimize Tobacco Usage

Smoking also causes high blood pressure and heart diseases

  1. Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs

Their consumption results in high blood pressure and ensuing health complications

  1. Medication/Treatment

Doctors recommend specific medicines to treat blood pressure. Treatment starts from low doses to higher doses of drugs, depending on the BP levels.

Final words:

High blood pressure has the intrinsic potential to develop into a serious health crisis. Consistently higher blood pressure can cause critical health issues. These include heart attack, stroke, impaired vision, brain hemorrhage, kidney failure, and other complications.

However, you can avoid these complications by bringing certain changes in your lifestyle, eating healthy foods, being physically active, and limiting the use of salt, cigarettes, and alcohol, etc.

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