High Blood Pressure or hypertension is
defined as a consistently elevated blood pressure exceeding 140 mmHg
(systolic) and/or 90 mmHg (diastolic).
Blood is carried to all parts of the body by the arteries. Blood pressure
is defined as the force of the blood against the artery walls as the heart pumps the blood around the body. Each time the heart beats it pumps out blood into the arteries. Systolic pressure
refers to blood pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood and diastolic pressure
refers to blood pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The instrument that records the blood pressure is called sphygmomanometer
. The normal recommended blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg
If the blood pressure falls between the range of 120/80 mmHg and 140/90 mmHg it is termed as ‘pre-hypertension’
High blood pressure can be dangerous as it makes the heart work harder. Hypertension is a ‘silent killer disease’
and it often has no signs and symptoms. If left untreated it can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke as well as kidney failure and eye damage. Some people may not realize they have high blood pressure until they have problems with their blood, heart or kidneys.
Almost one in every three people suffers from this condition and this may be related to our modern lifestyle and dietary changes. Consumption of salt, smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and stress are some of the factors that can lead to increase in the blood pressure.
Classification of hypertension
- Primary (essential) hypertension - High blood pressure with no obvious underlying medical cause.
- Secondary hypertension - High blood pressure caused by other conditions that affect the kidneys, arteries, heart or endocrine system.
- Headaches, dizziness or nosebleeds are the common warning signs of high blood pressure.
Adopting healthy lifestyle habits is an effective first step in both preventing and controlling high blood pressure. Diuretics, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers can be used for treating hypertension.
High blood pressure is a chronic condition and usually lasts a lifetime once it is developed.
What are the Causes of High Blood
The causes of high blood pressure
may vary according to individuals.
In 90 - 95%
cases of high blood pressure, there is no specific underlying medical
condition. Many patients have high blood pressure for years and do not
know it. When the cause is unknown it is called essential
hypertension or primary hypertension
Certain associations have been noticed with people having essential
hypertension. They include
- A high
intake of salt
- Hereditary (genetic) susceptibility
failure (renal insufficiency)
- Lack of
- Aging inflammation
remaining 5-10 % cases of hypertension are due to certain factors that
can be corrected. This is known as secondary
. The causes include –
The major risk factors for
developing hypertension are -
of certain arteries
- Structural abnormality of the aorta
existing from birth
- Adrenal gland
- Thyroid diseases
- Pre-eclampsia, a significant increase in blood pressure during the last 3
months of pregnancy.
- Use of
illegal drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines.
- Medications like birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, pain
Syndrome is also a cause of developing
- Age - Blood
pressure increases as age increases.
- Race - High
blood pressure is more common in blacks than in
- Sex - In young adulthood and early middle age,
men have high blood pressure more often than women.
- Genetics - High blood pressure tends to run in