What is a normal blood pressure?
A normal blood pressure reading is considered 120/80 – if blood pressure reaches 130/90 or higher, then it
is considered hypertension.
What is hypertension?
Hypertension is commonly referred to as high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the result of two forces – the first force (systolic pressure) occurs as the heart pumps blood into the arteries. The second force (diastolic pressure) is created by the heart resting between beats. Blood pressure is calculated as two numbers: the systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure.
Common signs and symptoms
Hypertension can often be asymptomatic. However, if symptoms do occur, they can present as:
What happens during hypertension?
The cause of hypertension is not always known, in which case, a doctor will diagnose primary hypertension, However, hypertension can also be caused by other medical conditions, such as kidney disease and obesity. A high fat diet, drinking a lot of alcohol and smoking tobacco can also increase the risk of hypertension. There are also rare tumours that cause hypertension.
What happens during a hypertensive crisis?
A hypertensive crisis occurs when blood pressure spikes, which can cause organ damage.There are two types of hypertensive crises – a hypertensive urgency, where the blood pressure reaches 180/110 or higher, or a hypertensive emergency, where blood pressure is so high that organ damage can occur, and blood pressure must be reduced immediately.
What are the risks of hypertension to my health?
Hypertension increases the workload of the heart and blood vessels, forcing them to work harder and less efficiently. Over time, high blood pressure damages the tissue inside the arteries, allowing bad cholesterol to form plaque along the tiny tears inside the artery walls. Over time, the more plaque and damage increases, the narrower the arteries become, further increasing blood pressure. This can further harm your arteries, heart and the rest of the body, as well as leading to other conditions like arrhythmia, heart attack and stroke.
How is hypertension treated?
Doctors will often recommend lifestyle changes, like eating a diet with less salt, getting regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight/ losing weight and limiting alcohol and tobacco intake. They may also recommend reducing stress using relaxation techniques. Antihypertensive medications may be used in conjunction with lifestyle adjustments. There are several different types of antihypertensive medications, including diuretics, beta-blockers and vasodilators. The choice of medication depends on the individual and any pre-existing medical conditions.
How does hypertension lead to heart failure?
Hypertension can lead to heart failure as it adds to the heart’s workload, which can lead to an enlarged heart, as the heart thickens and becomes larger to cope with demand, The larger the heart becomes, the harder it needs to work to meet the body’s demands for oxygen and nutrients,
How does hypertension lead to stroke?
Hypertension damages arteries throughout the body, which creates conditions where the arteries can burst or clog more easily, A stroke occurs when a blood vessel to the brain is either blocked by a clot (ischemic stroke) or bursts (hemorrhagic stroke). When that happens, part of the brain is no longer getting the blood and oxygen it needs, so it starts to die. This can affect cognitive function or paralysed limbs.
In 49+ years as a practicing cardiologist, Assoc Prof Harry Mond has published 260+ published manuscripts & books. A co-founder of Cardiac Monitoring Service, he remains Medical Director and oversees 500K+ heart studies each year.
Download his full profile here.