Causes and Treatments of Hypertension
Hypertension is the medical term used to describe high blood pressure. Blood pressure is a measurement of the force against the walls of the arteries as blood pumps cycles from the heart through the rest of the body. Blood pressure readings are given as two numbers. The first number is called the systolic blood pressure. Systolic pressure is amount of pressure that blood exerts on vessels while the heart is beating. Diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure in blood vessels between heartbeats, or when the heart is resting. A person with hypertension with has a systolic reading of over 140 and a diastolic reading of over 90.
Hypertension can be classified as either primary or secondary. Most cases of hypertension, 90-95% are primary cases, meaning that there is no apparent medical cause for the high blood pressure. Secondary hypertension is caused by other conditions that affect the heart, blood, kidneys and endocrine system.
Essential, or primary, hypertension is the most common type of hypertension. Though there is no direct cause for hypertension, there are many lifestyle factors that increase the risks of developing hypertension, including: smoking, stress, visceral obesity, potassium deficiency, obesity, salt sensitivity, alcohol intake, and vitamin D deficiency. Risks also increase with age and family history.
Secondary hypertension is important to recognize because it is managed by treating the underlying cause of the elevated blood pressure. It is commonly caused by kidney disease, obesity, pre-eclampsia, and certain drugs.
It is extremely important to treat hypertension before it escalates. Untreated, it can lead to stroke, myocardial infraction, heart failure, arterial aneurysm, and is the leading cause of chronic kidney failure. Treatment for hypertension depends on the type and severity. The easiest and most common way to treat hypertension is through lifestyle modifications. Dietary changes, physical exercise, and weight loss have all been shown to reduce the pressure of the blood within the arteries in persons suffering from hypertension. Low sodium diets that a rich in nutritious food such as nuts, whole grains, fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables have been shown to lower the blood pressure. Cutting out foods like red meats, sweets and sugar are also beneficial.
In addition to lifestyle changes, there are several types of medications that reduce hypertension. These medications, called antihypertensive drugs, reduce the pressure of blood. Doctors often prescribe multiple types of medications to manage high blood pressure including, ACE inhibitors, alpha blockers, angiotesin II receptor antagonists, betablockers, calcium channel blockers, diuretics, direct rennin inhibitors and glyceryl trinitrates.