Hypertension or High Blood Pressure (HBP) is a long-term or chronic health condition where the pressure of the flow of blood is always high in the arteries. High blood pressure can develop over many years and affects everyone at some point in life but if not treated for a very long time, it can escalate the risks of a number of cardiovascular problems and chronic kidney disorders.
1. Primary hypertension – High blood pressure caused by genetic, prenatal or other natural causes like aging (people over 60 develop HBP) is known as primary hypertension.
2. Secondary hypertension – Secondary hypertension is that which is caused due to specific conditions, like kidney disorders, lung disorders etc.
Blood pressure depends on the amount of blood pumped by the heart and the radius of the blood vessels. The delicate balance can get disturbed due to a number of factors.
Primary hypertension may be caused by genetic factors. There are 35 identified genetic loci related to blood pressure. Mutations in these can cause chronic HBP. Other factors like maternal smoking, deficiency of vitamin D, deficiency of calcium, insufficient breast milk consumption also increase the risk of HBP.
Secondary hypertension is caused by a variety of conditions like hypothyroidism, hypothyroidism, nephritis, asthma, sleep apnea, depression, pregnancy etc. Overconsumption of caffeine, alcohol, sodium and illegal drugs may also be responsible for high blood pressure.
Hypertension may not show any warning symptoms for several years while it continues to develop. A few tell-tale signs are frequent throbbing headaches, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, excessive sweating but these only occur when there is an extremely serious medical complication.
Treatment and Prevention:
Hypertension is a common condition, especially after the age of 40. Medication may help control severely high blood pressure to an extent but certain lifestyle changes go a long way in both preventing and treating the disorder. Some of them are:
1. Taking regular blood pressure readings after the age of 25. A normal blood pressure is not more than 120/80 mm Hg.
2. Obesity causes hypertension. A normal Body Mass Index of 30kg/sq. m. is to be maintained.
3. The daily diet should include at least 4 to 6 portions of fruits and vegetables.
4. Salt intake is to be limited.
5. Drinking and smoking are to be minimized.
6. Stress and burnout should be avoided.