High blood pressure is also known as hypertension, is a medical condition characterized by raised blood pressure in the arteries of the body. In this health condition chronically raised high blood pressure in the arteries also tends to damage cardiac function. There are two factors which determine the blood pressure; these are the amount of the blood pumped by the heart along with resistance to blood flow offered by the arteries.
In many people with high blood pressure there may not be any symptom, although the underlying damage to the arteries as well as the cardiac tissue usually continues. High blood pressure may lead to a number of life threatening complications like stroke or heart attack. Usually it takes years before the symptoms become evident. However, detection of high blood pressure is quite easy along with its treatment.
In many people suffering from high blood pressure there may not be any symptom however, sometimes even early stage of high blood pressure may lead to headache, dizziness, nose bleed even blackout.
Persistent high blood pressure may lead to damage to the arterial walls and also different vital organs of the body supplied by the arteries. Common complications of longstanding uncontrolled high blood pressure include
- Stroke: in this condition the elasticity of the vessels supplying the brain tissue is damaged due to high blood pressure. As a result, there is an increased risk of rupture of these affected vessels. Also accumulation of fat on the inner walls of the vessels (atherosclerosis) is another contributing factor
- Heart attack: similar to stroke, high blood pressure may damage the arteries supplying the cardiac tissue (coronary arteries) resulting in to poor blood supply to heart and ischemic heart disease even heart attack (myocardial infarction).
- Heart failure: again in people suffering from high blood pressure the heart has to pump blood against increased resistance resulting in thickening of heart muscles. It ultimately leads to loss of the elastic nature of the walls of the cardiac chambers and impaired cardiac function.
- Impaired renal function: damage to the walls of the supplying arteries eventually leads to impaired renal function.
- Visual problem
- Metabolic syndrome: in this syndrome certain medical conditions co-exist; these are high blood pressure, resistance to insulin (diabetes), impaired lipid metabolism leading to high circulating levels of triglyceride, LDL, low level of HDL etc. High blood pressure makes a person more susceptible to the other components of metabolic syndrome.
- Sometimes suffering from uncontrolled high blood pressure for a prolonged period may affect memory
High blood pressure can be of two types; primary and secondary. In primary high blood pressure (essential hypertension) usually no underlying cause can be identified. This type of high blood pressure usually develops over years. On the other hand, in secondary high blood pressure there is an underlying medical condition responsible. Commonly responsible conditions include renal diseases (most common cause), certain hormone related disorders like hyper- or hypothyroidism, hyper aldosteronism, hyperparathyroidism, pheochromocytoma etc. Sometimes obesity, pregnancy, consumption of certain drugs like oral contraceptive pills, pain relieving drugs, nasal decongestants, certain herbal preparations, excessive alcohol etc. may lead to high blood pressure. Rarely, certain defects present since birth in the blood vessels like coarctation of the aorta may lead to high blood pressure.
Common risk factors include
- Progressive age: usually after 45 years in males and above 65 years in females.
- Ethnicity: black people are more at risk of suffering from high blood pressure and the associated complications
- Family history
- Excessive body weight
- Life style: certain life style pattern like leading sedentary life, smoking, alcohol consumption, excessive stress, certain food habit like consuming high sodium, low potassium diet etc increases the risk
High blood pressure is more common in adults however now-a-days increasing numbers of children are also affected especially due to unhealthy life style.
There are number of treatment options available. These are lifestyle changes like regular exercise, loosing weight, consuming low salt diet, quitting smoking or alcohol etc and consuming antihypertensive drugs.
In some people lifestyle change alone is not enough; they require antihypertensive drugs like thiazide diuretics, calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, ARBs, rennin inhibitors etc. There are many things stored in kitchen cabinets that would help you to lower high blood pressure like garlic, onion, honey etc