Blood Pressure is a measure of the pressure of the blood against the walls of the arteries. This pressure is a result of the heart pumping blood into the arteries and through the circulatory system and also the force of the arteries resisting the blood flow. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, about one in every three adults in the United States has high blood pressure.
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High Blood Pressure Symptoms
Most of the time, there are no symptoms. Symptoms that may occur include:
- Chest pain
- Ear noise or buzzing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Vision changes
If you have a severe headache or any of the symptoms above, see your doctor right away. This may be a signs of a complication or dangerously high blood pressure called malignant hypertension.
Usually people see their doctor or emergency room physician because of chest pain, severe headache, and the other signs noted because they’re actually having a heart attack or stroke. These types of symptoms indicate that severe hypertension has been around long enough that the heart, brain, kidneys, or eyes have sustained some type of damage.
When severe signs of hypertension occur, they “tend to be the consequences of the high blood pressure as it relates to other organs,” says Wexler, whether it’s kidney damage or a cardiovascular event. “If somebody has a stroke, their blood pressure is going to be elevated — that’s part of the process of a stroke.”
While high blood pressure may be one of the underlying causes, the focus is on the immediate event first, and then on long-term treatment of hypertension to further prevent strokes, heart attacks and other health conditions.
High blood pressure symptoms aren’t black and white, Wexler says. “It’s the leading contributor to death worldwide, but unfortunately it’s just not that obvious.”
What Factors Increase The Risk of Hypertension?
Anyone can suffer from high blood pressure, but certain factors can seriously aggravate hypertension and increase the risk of complications:
- a tendency in the family to suffer hypertension
- diabetes Type 1 or Type 2
- kidney diseases
- high alcohol intake
- excessive salt intake
- lack of exercise
- certain medicines, such as steroids.
How is High Blood Pressure Controlled?
Many people can control high blood pressure by:
- choosing Foods that are low in Sodium (salt).
- choosing Foods low in calories and fat.
- choosing Foods high in starch and fiber.
- maintaining a healthy weight, or losing weight if overweight.
- limiting serving sizes.
- increasing physical activity.
- reducing or omitting alcoholic beverages.
However, other people must take daily medication to control hypertension. People with hypertension should routinely have their blood pressure checked and be under the care of a physician.
Treatment Of High Blood Pressure
Treatment for hypertension comes in many forms — from lifestyle changes to medication. Learn more from this overview about how to lower blood pressure here.
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Handling Hypertension and Stress
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Medicines For Hypertension or High Blood Pressure
- ACE inhibitors stop the production of a hormone called angiotensin II that makes the blood vessels narrow. As a result, the vessels expand, improving blood flow. Tension in the circulation is also lowered by the kidneys filtering more fluid from the blood vessels into urine. This also helps reduce blood pressure. If your blood pressure is not easily controlled on simple medication, your doctor will probably use a medicine of this type.
- Angiotensin-II receptor antagonists work in a similar way to ACE inhibitors. But instead of stopping the production of angiotensin II, they block its action. This allows the blood vessels to expand, improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure.
- Beta-blockers block the effect of the hormone adrenaline and the sympathetic nervous system on the body. This relaxes the heart so that it beats more slowly, lowering the blood pressure.
- Alpha-blockers cause the blood vessels to relax and widen. Combining them with beta-blockers has a greater effect on the resistance in the circulation.
- Calcium-channel blockers reduce muscle tension in the arteries, expanding them and creating more room for the blood flow. In addition, they slightly relax the heart muscle so it beats more slowly, reducing blood pressure.
- Diuretics help the body get rid of excess salt and fluids via the kidneys. In certain cases, they relax blood vessels, reducing the strain on your circulation.