Hypertension is a common heart condition defined by increased blood pressure. It is a chronic cardiovascular illness that affects 1.28 billion adults in the world. Hypertensive individuals suffer from high blood pressure and are at major risk of other underlying conditions.
Blood pressure is the force exerted for the blood to flow and circulate against the arteries’ walls. A person becomes hypertensive when blood pressure increases dramatically. The more blood the heart pumps and the narrower the arteries it flows, the higher the blood pressure. Blood pressure is read in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), with systolic and diastolic pressure numbers.
The top number, systolic pressure, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. Meanwhile, diastolic pressure, or the bottom number, measures the pressure in the arteries in between each heartbeat.
Blood pressure level and diagnosis
- Normal (Under 130/80 mmHg)
- Stage I Hypertension (mild) (30-139/OR diastolic between 80-89 mmHg)
- Stage II Hypertension (moderate) (140/90 mmHg or higher)
- Hypertensive (180/120 mmHg or higher)
Even though high blood pressure levels can put patients at major health risks, most people with increased blood pressure do not manifest any signs during the onset of an impending hypertensive condition. That is why hypertension is often referred to as a “silent killer.” Most people with hypertension are unaware of the problem because it exhibits no warning signs or symptoms. For this reason, it is advised that a patient’s blood pressure reading should be monitored regularly.
A few people may experience headaches, breathlessness, and nosebleeds, in the beginning, but it can be life-threatening only after their blood pressure has risen to dangerously high level.
Different types of hypertension
Essential hypertension. This type of hypertension is diagnosed after your doctor observes a rise in your blood pressure after three or more visits upon ruling out all other causes of hypertension. Most of the time, people with essential hypertension do not exhibit any symptoms. However, they may occasionally feel headaches, fatigue, vertigo, or nosebleeds. Research showed that genetics, nutrition, smoking, alcohol, and obesity contribute to essential hypertension.
Secondary hypertension. An anomaly in the arteries supplying blood to the kidneys is the most frequent cause of secondary hypertension. Other causes include obstructed airways during sleeping, adrenal gland disorders, thyroid disease, hormone irregularities, and a diet high in salt or alcohol. Drugs, especially over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, and others) and pseudoephedrine (Afrin, Sudafed, and others), can also result in secondary hypertension.
Isolated systolic hypertension. The two values that makeup blood pressure are the systolic pressure, the upper number, and the diastolic pressure, or the lower number, representing the pressure experienced while the heart is resting in between beats. Blood pressure under 120/80 is considered normal, and anything above it is considered hypertension. The decreased flexibility in the arteries causes this type of hypertension, which is more prevalent in those over 65 years old. Regarding an older person’s risk of cardiovascular disease, systolic pressure is significantly greater than diastolic pressure.
Malignant hypertension. Only 1% of patients with hypertension experience this condition. According to research, younger adults, African-American men, and pregnant women are more likely to experience malignant hypertension. When your blood pressure increases dramatically, malignant hypertension sets in. You may have malignant hypertension if your diastolic pressure is greater than 130. This is a medical emergency that requires hospital treatment. Some symptoms include numbness in the arms and legs, impaired vision, confusion, headache, and chest pain.
Resistant hypertension. If your doctor has prescribed three antihypertensive drugs and your blood pressure remains too high, you may have resistant hypertension. Twenty to thirty percent of cases of elevated blood pressure may result in resistant hypertension. People who are older, obese, or have underlying medical conditions like diabetes or kidney disease are more likely to experience resistant hypertension, which may also have a genetic component.
Some of the symptoms of hypertension that you should look out for include the following:
- early morning headaches
- irregular heart rhythms
- vision changes
- buzzing in the ears
Meanwhile, a severe case of hypertension can cause the following:
- chest pain
- muscle tremors
If left untreated, hypertension can lead to stroke, heart attack, peripheral vascular disease, kidney failure, eye damage, vascular dementia, and complications during pregnancy for women. This can negatively impact your overall heart health.
How to know if you have hypertension?
A blood pressure test can determine hypertension. The process of taking your blood pressure is quick and painless. Although individuals can test their blood pressure using automated devices, a professional assessment is crucial for determining its risk and possible health conditions associated with it.