What is High Blood Pressure?
Let us first understand what blood pressure means. Heart, the pulmonary organ that pumps blood around the body regularly, when the heart stops human body stops working. Pumping of blood is essential as the blood transports oxygen and other essential minerals and vitamins throughout the body constantly needed to work efficiently. If in any scenario, blood supply reduces, the person in question feels dizzy due to lack of oxygen. Thus, this oxygen-rich blood is required to be pumped throughout the body, this pumping of blood creates pressure on the walls of arteries, which is called blood pressure.When a person has a blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg (systolic/diastolic) for a longer period of time, that person is said to be suffering from high blood pressure, or hypertension
To get a clearer idea, let us explain to you how blood pressure is divided into five categories.
1) Low Blood Pressure, or Hypotension
Systolic mmHg 90 or less
Diastolic mmHg 60 or less
2) Normal Blood Pressure
Systolic mmHg 90-119
Diastolic mmHg 60-79
Systolic mmHg 120-139
Diastolic mmHg 80-89
4) Stage 1 Hypertension
Systolic mmHg 140-159
Diastolic mmHg 90-99
5) Stage 2 Hypertension
Systolic mmHg over 160
Diastolic mmHg over 100
How to identify the symptoms of high blood pressure?
People suffering from high blood pressure start to experience symptoms pertaining to the condition when their blood pressure reaches Stage 2 Hypertension i.e. 180/110 mmHg.
These symptoms usually include –
1) A headache – sharp pain in the head region which lasts for many days.
2) Nausea – sensation of discomfort and unease in the stomach, with a mounting urge to vomit.
3) Vomiting – this symptom is less common than nausea.
4) Dizziness – sensation of feeling light-headedness, or of feeling unsteadiness, usually called vertigo.
5) Diplopia – the person sees a blurred vision or double vision.
6) Epistaxis – causing nosebleeds to occur.
7) Palpitations – sensations of having the irregular heartbeat or forceful heartbeat.
8) Dyspnea – sensation of breathlessness or shortage of breath.
These symptoms experienced by a person strongly suggest having high blood pressure or hypertension, and the person concerned should consult a physician immediately.
Children having high blood pressure show slightly different symptoms than their adult counterparts like a headache, fatigue, blurred vision, nosebleeds, Bell’s palsy, which is an inability of a person to control his facial muscles from one side.
High Blood pressure in new-borns is very critical and life-threatening. They show the following symptoms – their inability to thrive, seizure or heart attacks, irritability, lethargy, or respiratory problems.
People once diagnosed with a high blood pressure should make a habit of getting their blood pressures checked regularly even if they are facing no problems. Even when your blood pressure is normal, have it checked once every five years or more so, if you show any of the above symptoms for precautionary reasons only.
What causes high blood pressure and why?
There has never been a clear indicator for what causes high blood pressure in human beings, why the blood suddenly increases pressure on arteries after years of smooth working, but there are some indicators which define as high-risk factors for blood pressure. These factors are taken as high blood pressure risk factors. A person cautious for his blood pressure should keep these factors in mind as they increase the likelihood of causing high blood pressure in a human being.
When discussing the causes of high blood pressure, it has been divided into two major categories:-
1) Primary high blood pressure – there has been no major cause identified for the primary high blood pressure.
2) Secondary high blood pressure – this is defined as when high blood pressure is caused due to some underlying disease like kidney disease or any specific medication that a person is taking.
There are various secondary high blood pressure examples. These factors increase the likelihood of a person having hypertension or high blood pressure.
As a person gets older, his/her heart works harder to pump blood throughout his/her body. This increases the risk of high blood pressure in many cases.
2) Family history
Hypertension or high blood pressure tends to run in families, more so in men than in women. If any of your close family members had a history of high blood pressure, it increases your chances of having it. An international scientific study has recently identified eight genetic markers that may increase the chances of high blood pressure.
Blood pressure tends to get lower when the temperature increases i.e. when the weather is hot, on the other hand, it increases when the temperature decreases i.e. when the weather is cold. It has been seen that blood pressure values undergo various changes and differs significantly based on outdoor temperature and time span around the year.
4) Ethnic Background, Race and ancestry
According to a study, the race also plays an important role in increasing chances of having a higher blood pressure, people belonging to an African or South Asian race have higher risks of having a high blood pressure than people from different ethnic backgrounds. People belonging to Caucasian or Amerindian ancestries (natively Americans) have a lower risk of having hypertension or high blood pressure.
5) Overweight and Obesity
Weight also plays a role in increased risks for high blood pressure, overweight and obese people have a higher likelihood of hypertension, than people with normal body weight.
6) Gender aspects
Generally, adult men run higher risks of having high blood pressure than adult women. But after the age of 60, these variations decreases by a long margin, both men and women then show equal chances of having higher blood pressure.
7) Inactive physically
Being physically inactive, having a sedentary lifestyle, very less or negligible exercise also factors in increasing chances of having high blood pressure or hypertension.
Smoking results in narrowing of blood vessels that increase blood pressure levels, narrower the arteries more pressure while blood is pumping. It also reduces the oxygen content in the blood which means that heart has to pump blood faster to overcompensate for the oxygen deficiency in blood, resulting in more pressure on the blood vessels. People with regular smoking habits have higher chances of having high blood pressure than people who don’t.
9) Intake of alcohol
Alcoholic intake also changes the blood pressure levels in your body, people who are used to drinking regularly and heavily have higher systolic pressure than people who don’t drink. According to scientists, systolic blood pressure levels are 7mmHg higher in those people that are frequent drinkers.
10) Higher salt intake in body
People whose diet contain abundant salt quantity in their diet have more chances of having high blood pressure than people who eat less salt. The reason is that salt hold water in the body, so when the intake of salt increases in the body so does the blood pressure levels.
11) Diet with higher fat intake
Health professionals are of the opinion that when people increase intake of saturated fats, they are risking the chances of raising blood pressure levels. The problem is not the quantity of fats consumed but the type of fat consumed by the body. Unsaturated fats are not harmful to your health, but saturated fats and Trans fats (animal-sourced fats) should not be consumed in high quantities. Plant fats i.e. fat sourced from plants like avocados, olive oil, nuts and omega oils should be taken if need be. They are good for the body.
12) Stress (Physically/Mentally)
Studies are now showing that how people handle really stressful situations, can show how much risk they are running of having high blood pressure later in life. Mental stress over a longer duration of time can cause blood pressure levels to rise, as when the mental activity increases due to stress levels, heart pumps more blood to the nervous system, resulting in higher blood pressures. Examples of highly stressful jobs are – air traffic controller, ER doctor etc.
Patients having diabetes run a higher risk of having high blood pressure or hypertension. Type 1 patients are at a risk for hypertension with high blood sugar levels. It can be kept in moderation by regular and efficient blood sugar level control, also intake of insulin which reduces the long-term risk of having high blood pressure. Type 2 diabetes patients are at a risk for hypertension with high blood sugar levels and also obesity and over-weightiness, medications, and some other cardiovascular diseases.
It is a specific immune system problem that appears on the skin in the form of red, scaly patches which increases the risk of having high blood pressure or hypertension. The condition is more common in women than in men.
Women carrying a child have high chances of developing high blood pressure. It is a common medical condition in pregnant women and causes loads of medical complications in the time of pregnancy. If blood pressure continues to remain high after 20 weeks of pregnancy, preeclampsia and other complexities develop in the mother.