Hypertension – Causes, Sypmtons, Signs, Investigations, Prevention, Treatment, Complication

Definition & Overview

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your arteries is high enough that it may eventually be the cause of several health problems, such as myocardial infarction, aneurysm, heart failure, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, or even dementia.

Blood pressure in a person is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps, the narrower your arteries will get, which results in higher blood pressure.

Types of Hypertension

  • Primary Hypertension
    In most adults, there is no identifiable cause of high blood pressure. This type of hypertension is called primary hypertension. It tends to develop gradually over the course of several years.
  • Secondary hypertension
    Some people have hypertension caused by an underlying condition. This type of high blood pressure is commonly known as secondary hypertension. It tends to appear suddenly and causes much higher blood pressure than primary hypertension. Various conditions and medication can also lead to secondary hypertension like obstructive sleep apnea, kidney problems, thyroid problems, etc.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Most people with high blood pressure show no signs or symptoms, even if the readings reach dangerously high levels. Whereas, a few people show signs of headache, shortness of breath, dizziness, and nosebleeds. But, these symptoms are not specific and sometimes may not occur until the blood pressure has reached a severe or life-threatening stage.

When to see a Doctor?

You’ll likely get your blood pressure measured while getting a routine checkup. Consult your doctor for a blood pressure reading at least every 2 years starting from the age of 18. If you are 40 years or above, or have a high risk of hypertension, ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading every year. It is essential to measure the blood pressure in both arms to determine if there is a difference. It is also important to use an appropriate arm-sized cuff in order to get accurate readings. Your doctor may recommend more frequent readings if you have already been diagnosed with hypertension or have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Additional Investigations Recommended for Hypertension Patients

Although a doctor’s visit is not always necessary for measuring blood pressure. But, being a patient of hypertension raises other health concerns as well. That is why patients suffering from hypertension are advised to get a regular check-up of the following in order to keep a check of their overall body and diagnose diseases at an early stage:-

  • Lipid Profile
  • Kidney Profile
  • Eye Checkup
  • Heart Checkup

Risk factors of Hypertension

High blood pressure or hypertension has many risk factors including:-

  • Age
    The risk of hypertension increases with age. Until about the age of 64, hypertension is more common in men. Women are more likely to develop this condition after the age of 65.
  • Family History
    High blood pressure tendencies usually run in families. Make sure to get a genetic history of your family to get an overview of health problems in your family.
  • Being Overweight or Obese
    The more you weigh, the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your body tissues. As the volume of blood to be circulated increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls. That can cause hypertension.
  • No Physical Activity
    People who are not physically active tend to have a higher heart rate. The higher your heart rate, the harder your heart has to work, and the stronger the force on your arteries. Lack of physical activity also increases the risk of being obese, that as a result causes hypertension.

Management and Treatment

Lifestyle adjustments are a must whilst treating hypertension. Here are some recommendations:-

  • Regular Physical Exercise
    The most obvious, yet the most effective one. People suffering from hypertension should exercise at least 5 days a week. This can include brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming.
  • Stress Reduction
    This one is a must for every patient suffering from hypertension. Avoiding or learning to manage stress can help a person control his/her blood pressure. This can be attained by using techniques like meditation, warm baths, yoga, and simply going on long and relaxing walks.
  • Medication
    Another method to treat hypertension, medications. Doctors often recommend a low dose at first because these medications usually have minor side effects. This is done so the body of the patient can adjust to the medication.
  • Reducing Sodium (salt) Intake
    Lowering the amount of salt or sodium intake benefits people both with and without hypertension. Taking a limited amount of salt helps decrease the risk of hypertension and other health-related problems, but excess use causes hypertension.
  • Moderating Alcohol Consumption
    Moderate to excessive consumption of alcohol can increase hypertension. In fact, doctors recommend avoiding alcohol consumption whilst on medication. Alcohol decreases the effect of medication on a person's body.

Dr. Rishab Sharma

Dr. Rishab Sharma MBBS, MD (Internal Medicine) He is associated with Fortis Escorts Hospital, Jaipur. Dr. Rishab has wide experience in managing a variety of diseases, as well as managing critical care units in large government and corporate hospitals.

More Resources