High Blood Pressure: A Patient’s Guide

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It’s easy to overlook high blood pressure, often known as hypertension until health problems arise. Unfortunately, many individuals are unaware of the consequences of hypertension until they develop heart disease, renal illness, or have a stroke. Almost half of Americans have hypertension.

The threshold for excessive blood pressure was recently decreased to 130/80 mmHg, which is now the official norm. According to the American Heart Association, more than 100 million Americans today have excessive blood pressure. You may not know whether you have excessive blood pressure or how to protect your health when standards and treatment criteria change.

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Patients are urged to monitor their own development and take proactive steps to lower their risks now more than ever. The good news is that if you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension, there’s a lot you can do to control it, avoid consequences, and lower your blood pressure to a healthy level.

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High Blood Pressure: A Patient’s Guide

Symptoms and Signs

According to Suzanne Judd, a professor in the department of biostatistics at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, the public health concern is that most people are unaware of their chronic hypertension.

For good reason, hypertension is known as the “silent killer.” You’re unlikely to develop symptoms that act as hypertension warning signals unless you’re in the middle of a medical emergency known as a hypertensive crisis. Untreated persistent excessive blood pressure will cause harm to most individuals over time if left untreated.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

According to the American Heart Association, the hypertensive crisis occurs when blood pressure suddenly rises to 180/120. Symptoms such as severe headaches, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, and intense anxiety are possible. A hypertensive emergency includes symptoms such as chest or back discomfort, weakness, numbness, or trouble speaking, as well as a high blood pressure level.

Why is it so important to keep your blood pressure under control?

The average heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute. Every pulse circulates blood via your arteries, veins, and capillaries, which make up your blood vessel network. The constant flow of blood presses on the artery walls. Your blood pressure is this never-ending power.

Excessive blood pressure is induced by the tightening of microscopic arteries called arterioles, which control blood flow in the body. This restriction compels your heart to work harder, causing blood vessel pressure to rise.

The implications of hypertension may be serious, and decreasing your blood pressure can save your life. Dr. Wanpen Vongpatanasin, head of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s Hypertension Fellowship Program in Dallas, says the risk reduction is especially high in terms of enhancing cardiovascular health and minimizing brain consequences like stroke. Uncontrolled high blood pressure, on the other hand, may shorten your life. “In the end, having heart failure and stroke increases mortality,” she explains.

Another big issue is kidney dysfunction. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, high blood pressure is the second-leading cause of kidney failure in the United States. High blood pressure may damage blood vessels in the kidneys, which can lead to kidney failure.

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Controlling High Blood Pressure

Continuous, uncontrolled hypertension may also cause vision loss, sexual dysfunction, and peripheral artery disease.

Causes of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure may be divided into two categories.

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Causes of High Blood Pressure

Hypertension that is primary (essential)

There is no known cause of elevated blood pressure in most persons. Primary (essential) hypertension is a kind of high blood pressure that develops gradually over several years.

Hypertension that develops as a result of something else

An underlying ailment may produce Hypertension in certain persons. Secondary hypertension is a kind of high blood pressure that appears abruptly and causes greater blood pressure than initial hypertension. Secondary hypertension may be caused by a variety of illnesses and drugs, including:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a kind of sleep apnea that
  • Kidney disease is a condition that affects the kidneys
  • Tumors of the adrenal gland
  • Thyroid issues
  • Certain blood vessel malformations (congenital) are present at birth.
  • Birth control pills, cold treatments, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers, and certain prescription pharmaceuticals are examples of medications.
  • Cocaine and amphetamines are examples of illegal substances.

The Brain and Blood Pressure

The SPRINT research series looked at the impact of intensive blood pressure management on certain medical disorders, with a systolic pressure (the highest number) of less than 120 as the aim. Researchers discovered that high-risk individuals with closely managed blood pressure had a lower risk of heart attack, unstable angina, stroke, and heart failure than those with a less severe aim of systolic blood pressure of less than 140.

Emerging data shows that strict blood pressure management might help protect brain function. “We’re starting to observe a pattern of possible impacts on cognitive performance in more recent studies,” Vongpatanasin adds.

The findings of the SPRINT MIND research were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on January 18, 2019. When compared to conventional blood pressure management, tight blood pressure control lowered the incidence of probable dementia by 17%. The difference between the two groups was not statistically significant. Blood pressure regulation, on the other hand, was linked to a 19 percent decreased likelihood of moderate cognitive impairment, which is a significant result.

Risk Factors for Hypertension

Some Hypertension risk factors are beyond your control. Hypertension is more likely to develop as you become older, if you have a family history of hypertension, and if you are African American.

You’re more likely to develop hypertension if you have a chronic medical condition like diabetes, renal illness, or sleep apnea. High blood pressure problems such as gestational hypertension and preeclampsia may develop during pregnancy.

Being overweight or obese, as well as leading a sedentary lifestyle, raises your risk. Tobacco usage, excessive salt (or sodium) consumption, and heavy drinking all raise your risk.

Although hypertension is more common in older folks, it is increasingly showing up earlier in life. “Recently, we’ve begun seeing it in very young kids under the age of 20, as well,” adds Judd, who is the director of the UAB School of Public Health’s Lister Hill Center for Health Policy. “This is most likely related to the fact that an increasing number of Americans are growing fat. It is, without a doubt, a source of worry.”

How Can hypertension Be Managed?

Medications

According to the Food and Medication Administration, nine drug classes are used to treat hypertension. The effects of each medicine class on blood pressure are different:

Inhibitors of the angiotensin-converting enzyme

By blocking a hormone that causes blood arteries to constrict, ACE inhibitors assist to relax them. ACE inhibitors such as enalapril (Vasotec) and lisinopril (Prinivil and Zestril) are often given.

Beta-Blockers

Beta-blockers are a kind of medication that prevents the body These help the heart by reducing the impact of stress chemicals. Beta-blockers such as metoprolol (Lopressor and Toprol-XL) and nadolol (Corgard) are routinely used.

Diuretics

Diuretics, sometimes known as “water pills,” function by assisting the kidneys in flushing excess water and salt from the body, lowering fluid pressure on blood vessel walls. Hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide) and chlorothiazide are two thiazide-type diuretics used to treat excessive blood pressure (Diuril).

Angiotensin II receptor blockers

Blockers of the angiotensin II receptor. These also aid in the relaxation of blood vessels. ARBs include losartan (Cozaar) and valsartan (Diovan).

Calcium channel blockers

Calcium channel blockers are drugs that prevent calcium from entering the body. These medications relax the heart muscle and blood arteries by preventing calcium from entering cells, as the name indicates. Examples include amlodipine (Norvasc) and diltiazem (Cardizem and Tiazac).

Centrally acting agents

Agents with a central role. These drugs work by lowering blood pressure via affecting the brain and neurological system. This group includes clonidine (Catapres and Kapvay) and methyldopa.

Peripherally acting agents

Agents who operate on the periphery. Peripherally acting antiadrenergic drugs like reserpine (Serpalan) lower blood pressure by stopping the brain, adrenal glands, and some physiological tissues from producing stress chemicals.

Vasodilators

Vasodilators like hydralazine and minoxidil function by attacking the blood vessel walls directly.

Inhibitors of renin

Aliskiren (Tekturna), a renin inhibitor, also helps blood arteries relax and dilate, improving blood flow.

Whether and when to begin antihypertensive therapy is something you should consider with your doctor. Each hypertension drug has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. To get the best results, doctors may prescribe a combination of two or more blood pressure medications.

It’s a two-way effort to find the proper medication regimen. “People should have a good, collaborative relationship with their physician so that they can say, ‘This medication isn’t making me feel well,'” Judd says, emphasizing the importance of being in charge of and advocating for one’s own health.

Lifestyle

Hypertension is a disease in which lifestyle adjustments may make a significant effect. Hypertension may be prevented or reduced by avoiding risk factors including smoking and excessive drinking, keeping a healthy weight, and remaining physically active.

According to official guidelines, adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of physical exercise every week. Depending on your age, general health, and chronic medical issues, the kind and intensity of exercise or activity may vary.

Conclusion

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a frequent health problem in the United States.

If you’ve just been diagnosed with high blood pressure, your treatment options will depend on a number of variables. These factors include the severity of your hypertension and the medicine your doctor believes will be most effective for you.

The good news is that lifestyle adjustments may be effective strategies for treating or even reversing hypertension in many circumstances. Include more healthy fruits and vegetables in your diet, increase your physical activity, reduce your salt intake, and limit your alcohol use among these improvements.

Because hypertension typically has no symptoms, it’s important to get your blood pressure tested at least once a year. Severe hypertension may lead to major health problems, so it’s best to have it recognized as soon as possible so it can be treated – and perhaps reversed!

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