High Blood Pressure is also known as Hypertension. It is a serious health condition that affects at least one out of three adults in the United States. It is even more serious because it hardly ever gives a warning sign or symptoms, thereby making it difficult for people who are affected to know until it is too late. In some cases, it leads to sudden death.
High Blood Pressure can however be managed or prevented but to do so, it is important to understand what high blood pressure really is, and what causes high blood pressure.
What is High Blood Pressure?
High Blood Pressure is when the force of blood pushing the artery walls is increased and as a result, causes the heart to work harder than it really should. The heart is responsible for pumping blood into the arteries, from where it is circulated throughout the whole body.
But when a person suffers from high blood pressure, the heart has to work harder to circulate blood and this may eventually lead to other problems like hardening of the arteries or heart failure.
How to Detect High Blood Pressure
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is usually referred to as a silent killer. This is because of its lack of symptoms unlike other health problems where there are usually several tell-tale signs to help patients detect or suspect that there might be a problem somewhere. Patients with high blood pressure hardly know that they are suffering from the disease until it becomes too late.
However, you can prevent sudden death caused by hypertension through early detection and constant monitoring. A regular blood pressure reading can help you detect high blood pressure early.
A Blood pressure reading would usually contain two numbers, a numerator and a denominator. The numerator (the top number) is known as the Systolic, while the denominator (the bottom number) is known as the Diastolic.
A person with a blood pressure reading of 120/80 can be said to have a normal pressure while a blood pressure reading of between 120-130 /80-89 indicates that the person is in a pre-hypertensive stage and may eventually suffer from hypertension if serious measures are not immediately taken. Any blood pressure reading above that may be an indication that a person is suffering from Hypertension.
However, for older people a blood pressure reading of over 140/90 indicates high blood pressure.
It is advisable to visit your doctor regularly for a blood pressure reading to ensure early detection, prevention and management of high blood pressure.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
- Primary Hypertension: This is also called essential hypertension. This type of hypertension has no specific, identifiable cause and is sometimes said to be caused by environmental, genetics and age factors. Majority of people who suffer from hypertension suffer from this type of hypertension.
- Secondary Hypertension: Secondary hypertension is usually caused by another medical condition which the patient may already be suffering from. For instance, some women develop secondary hypertension during pregnancy. Secondary hypertension would usually go away when the underlying condition is treated.
Other causes of hypertension include:
- Alcohol Abuse: Excessive drinking of alcohol can raise the blood pressure to unhealthy levels overtime and cause hypertension. The calories in alcohol can also lead to excessive weight gain, which is another common cause of hypertension.
- Illegal Drugs: Some illegal drugs like Cocaine, Amphetamines and Acetaminophen can also affect the blood pressure.
- Medications: Taking of some medications such as anti-depressants, caffeine, birth control pills, migraine medications, anti-inflammatory drugs and nasal decongestants can also increase blood pressure.
- Birth Defects: Sometimes, a person may suffer from high blood pressure due to defects in their blood vessels. This type of hypertension is can be traced to a person’s genes.
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Another major cause of secondary hypertension is a health condition known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea. It is a sleeping disorder that causes shortness/cessation of breath during sleep.
- Obesity: Being Overweight or Obese can also cause a person to develop Hypertension. Excess fat in the body would require extra oxygen and nutrients and since it is the heart’s job to supply these nutrients, it has to overwork itself to achieve this, thereby leading to increase in blood pressure.
- Poor Diet: High Blood Pressure may also be caused by a poor diet. When a person consumes too much sodium, caffeinated drinks or fatty foods, there are risks of developing high blood pressure.
- Sedentary Lifestyle: Another major cause of high blood pressure is living a sedentary lifestyle characterized by low levels of physical activity or no physical activities at all.
- Age: A person may also develop hypertension as they age. The risks of a person developing hypertension would actually increase as they grow older.
- Smoking: People who smoke are also at a risk of developing high blood pressure. The nicotine contents in cigarettes may cause the arteries to become narrow and hardened. This stresses the heart out and eventually leads to hypertension.
- Vitamin Deficiencies: Vitamin D deficiency is yet another factor that may lead to hypertension. Researchers have discovered that people with lower levels of Vitamin D are at a higher risk of developing hypertension.
Chronic Kidney diseases as well as thyroid and adrenal problems may also cause hypertension.
How to Control Hypertension without Drugs
Hypertension can be controlled or even cured by taking some measures to reduce the causative factors. Some of the steps that you can take in order to cure hypertension without necessarily taking medications include:
- Lose Weight: If you are overweight or obese, shedding a few pounds might go a very long way in helping you cure high blood pressure.
- Increase Physical Activity: One of the major causes of high blood pressure is living a sedentary lifestyle therefore increasing your levels of physical activity can go a long way in decreasing your blood pressure. You should make it a goal to try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.
- Improve on Your diet: Another step to take is to improve on your eating habits. Focus on eating foods that are high in fibre, vegetables and potassium and avoid foods that have high cholesterol or sodium levels.
- Reduce Consumption of Alcohol: Excessive consumption of alcohol also has negative impact on your blood pressure therefore you should try to reduce or completely avoid consumption of alcohol.
- Quit Smoking: Lastly, if you are a smoker, you should try to quit your smoking habits to avoid ingestion of high amounts of nicotine, which affects the arteries and causes hypertension.