What is High blood pressure?
High blood pressure, otherwise referred to as hypertension, means the pressure in your blood vessels is persistently too high, forcing your heart to work much harder. If the pressure remains high for a long time, it can cause severe health problems and complications. Increased numbers put a victim at a higher risk of heart attack, heart disease, kidney failure, and stroke, among other associated issues.
Types of Hypertension
High blood pressure is categorized into two types:
- Primary hypertension: This is also referred to as essential hypertension. When you have elevated blood pressure numbers with no known cause, you are said to have essential hypertension. This is the most common form of the condition and develops gradually over several years.
- Secondary hypertension: This is typically associated with adverse reactions to certain kinds of medicine or underlying health problems.
Primary hypertension causes
Even though there have been no conclusive findings on what exactly causes the slow increase of blood pressure, there is a combination of factors that may have a hand in it. Some of these factors are:
- Lifestyle and environment: Making unhealthy lifestyle choices like poor diet and inadequate physical exercise can take a toll on your health. Such choices lead to weight problems, which puts you at greater risk of essential hypertension.
- Genes: Some of the gene abnormalities or mutations that you inherit from your parents can make you genetically predisposed to hypertension.
- Physical changes and age: If there is any significant change in your body, it will trigger consequent changes in your blood pressure and you may start experiencing issues, such as hypertension. For instance, as you age, the functions of your kidneys change, which may affect your natural balance of fluids and salts. This often leads to an increase in blood pressure.
Secondary hypertension causes
There are many causes of secondary hypertension, including:
- Congenital heart defects
- Chronic use of alcohol or alcohol abuse
- Adrenal gland problems
- Certain endocrine tumors
- Kidney disease
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Side effects of medications
Treatment options for hypertension
A lot of factors come into play when it comes to choosing the best treatment options for hypertension. They will primarily depend on the type of hypertension you have. Therefore, treatment methods are two-fold.
Primary hypertension treatment methods
If you have been diagnosed with primary hypertension, a change in your lifestyle can go a long way in reducing your blood pressure numbers. Some of the changes might include:
- Eating a more balanced diet with lower quantities of fat and plenty of vegetables and fresh fruits.
- Studies have found weight loss is important for the treatment of hypertension, so try to keep active and work out regularly to maintain healthy body weight.
- Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake have been shown to aid in lowering blood pressure.
- Drinking less caffeine.
- Cutting down salt intake to quantities lower than 6g (0.2 oz.) daily.
Secondary hypertension treatment methods
When a doctor diagnoses the underlying problem behind your secondary hypertension, he will devise a treatment regimen that will focus on treating that condition to help lower your numbers. If it is discovered that some medication you took was the cause, your doctor will prescribe other medications with minimal to none side effects.
However, it is important to note that the treatment plan for elevated blood pressure numbers often evolves. You may realize that what was working before may lose its effectiveness over time. Therefore, keep working with your doctor to help you continue to refine your hypertension treatment.