High blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, is characterised by unhealthily high blood pressure levels. Blood pressure is measured by how much blood passes through your blood vessels at a given time, and the amount of resistance that occurs when blood is pumped away from the heart.
When your arteries are narrowed, there is a higher chance of resistance and, therefore, high blood pressure. High blood pressure can be damaging in the long-term, as it can lead to heart disease and stroke, amongst other complications.
Recognizing High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is incredibly common, and it’s thought that more than 100 million American adults have it. It’s not always easy to recognise when you have high blood pressure, as the symptoms don’t tend to be obvious. If you have high blood pressure, you may experience:
- Flushing (especially on the face)
- Difficulty sleeping
These symptoms, of course, could be an indicator of a number of conditions completely unrelated to hypertension. Equally, a person may have high blood pressure and no symptoms to report at all.
Treating Hypertension Early
The best way to be able to manage high blood pressure effectively is to catch it early. You can do this by using a blood pressure monitor to take regular readings of your blood pressure, which you can present to your doctor for their assessment. A “normal” blood pressure reading is anything that reads below 120/80 mm Hg.
Your doctor may ask that you use your own at-home blood pressure cuff to read your blood pressure several times a day. If you don’t know how to use blood pressure cuffs, there is plenty of useful information to be found online.
High Blood Pressure Causes
There is never usually a single obvious cause of high blood pressure. Instead, a number of factors may contribute to the condition, including genes and your diet and lifestyle choices. Physical changes in the body, like decreased kidney function with age, may also increase the risk of high blood pressure.
Treatment of High Blood Pressure
Depending on the type of high blood pressure you have, you may be offered slightly different treatment options. Making lifestyle changes may be the first step in the right direction – your doctor will instruct you on which foods to cut out, how much exercise to participate in, and other lifestyle habits you should adopt in hope of naturally reducing your blood pressure.
If these lifestyle changes don’t make much difference, you may also be prescribed medication.
Two common medications used for high blood pressure are beta blockers and diuretics. Beta blockers help to control your heart rate, while diuretics help your kidneys to rid your body of excess sodium, resultantly lowering blood pressure.
If your high blood pressure has been caused by another disorder or condition, your doctor will consider the treatment options for that particular condition. This may also involve advising that you switch medications if your doctor suspects a current medication is causing your blood pressure to rise.