What Causes Hypertension?

What causes hypertension?

Hypertension or elevated/high blood pressure, is a consequence of long-term force of blood against the arteries. Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries.

Hypertension is a serious medical condition that increases risk of heart, kidney, and other diseases. World Health Organisation estimates that globally 1.28 billion adults aged 30 to 79 have the disease. However, what is alarming about this statistic is that around 46% of adults with hypertension do not know that they have the condition. 

What is the difference between systolic and diastolic pressure?

The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure will be. Systolic blood pressure (the top number of a blood pressure reading) measures the pressure in the arteries. On the other hand, diastolic pressure (the bottomnumber) measures the pressure in your arteries between beats. 

How to take a blood pressure reading at home

It is important to avoid smoking, drinking a caffeinated drink or exercising within 30 minutes of taking your blood pressure reading. Also, use a cuff that fits properly (the cuff must not be too small) and place it on the upper arm. The upper arm provides a more accurate reading than closer to the wrist. Support your arm at heart level and ensure that you are sitting in an upright position. It is also important to relax. 

Nowadays, blood pressure monitors are advanced oscillometric devices. The FORA Active P30 plus Wireless BP Monitor for example, comes with Bluetooth, intuitive buttons, and a large memory capacity. The device additionally has date and time indicators to differentiate between Morning and Evening hypertension, and the option to perform auscultatory measurements. However, if you are looking for something on-the-go, the FORA Vital P31 BPMonitor is an excellent option. This smaller device is easy-to-use and is similarly clinically validated. It also detects irregular heartbeat activities and has a memory capacity for tracking blood pressure variations. 

Classifications of blood pressure readings:

Stage​​Systolic BP (mmHg)Diastolic BP (mmHg)

Normal​< 120​​​< 80

Optimal​120–129​​80–84

High normal​130–139​​85–89

Grade 1​140–159​​90–99

Grade 2​160–179​​100–109

Grade 3​≥ 180​​​≥ 110

Symptoms of hypertension

It is important to note that adults with hypertension may not experience any symptoms until the condition is severe. It is therefore important for adults (aged 18 and over) to have their blood pressure taken during a routine doctor’s visit. If you are diagnosed with hypertension, your doctor may schedule regular readings. Alternatively, your doctor may advise you toregularly take your blood pressure at home using your own blood pressure monitor. 

Symptoms of hypertension may include headaches, changes in vision, irregular heartbeat, and buzzing in the ears. Severe hypertension may cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue, anxiety, chest pain, and muscle tremors.

Risk factors for hypertension

Although the exact cause of high blood pressure is unknown, certain lifestyle habits and health factors play a role, such as:• Smoking• High salt intake• High alcohol intake• Too little potassium in your diet• Stress• Obesity• Lack of exercise• Genetics• Family history• Age• Chronic conditions such as kidney and thyroid disease• Women who take birth control pills• Sleep apnea

Your doctor can diagnose hypertension by checking your blood pressure. It is a simple process that usually only takes a few minutes. If your blood pressure is high, your doctor may check for underlying conditions. Complications that may arise due to uncontrolled high blood pressure include heart attack and stroke, aneurysm, kidney disease, thickened or narrowed blood vessels in the eye, dementia, and more. If you are concerned about hypertension, speak to your doctor for a diagnosis and proper treatment plan.

Sources

https://www.heart.org/en/news/2020/05/22/how-to-accurately-measure-blood-pressure-at-home

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hypertension

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373410

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4327181/

https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/blood-pressure-causes

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