What is hypertension?
Hypertension is defined as too high blood pressure. Although blood pressure depends on many factors such as weight, age, sex, etc, hypertension is considered when a person aged 50 shows a consistent systolic pressure of 14 and a diastolic one of 9.
When blood pressure is above 21 and 12, hypertensive crises are produced. These may seriously affect the body and require immediate hospitalization.
The most serious problem of this disease is that in most cases, the patient does not know he or she has got it, so untreated hypertension can cause damage to vital organs such as kidneys, eyes, heart etc. In more serious cases it can lead to cerebral hemorrhage, thrombosis, etc.
What do the figures with which we measure hypertension mean?
When measuring blood pressure two numbers separated by a slash are shown, eg 140/90.. The first number – the bigger – is the systolic pressure that is exerted by blood against artery walls when the heart contracts. The second number – the smallest – for blood pressure in the arteries when the heart doesn’t beat.
Both are measured in mm Hg (millimeters of mercury) which is the height that the mercury reaches when being pressed by the force of blood.) The following table shows the values of the different blood pressure for people over 18 years.
Blood pressure measurements
|Systolic pressure||Diastolic pressure|
|Normal||Less than 130||Less than 85|
|Normal high||Between 130 and 139||Between 85 and 89|
|Mild hypertension||Between 140 and 159||Between 90 and 99|
||Between 160 and 179||Between 100 and 109|
|Severe hypertension||Between 180 and 209||Between 110 and 119|
|Very severe hypertension||210 or higher||120 or higher|
There are two types of hypertension:
– Essential hypertension: It is that which occurs for unknown reasons: This type of hypertension is more common among the hypertensive population. It can not be cured although it can be controlled by changes in food habits, in life habits, or a suitable medication.
– Secondary hypertension: It is that resulting from of an illness such as glandular problems or kidney problems, pregnancy, use or drugs. When these diseases are controlled, blood pressure normalizes.
Symptoms of hypertension
– In most cases no symptoms appear at the beginning.
– Symptoms that can occur are: dizziness,, nausea, headache, tinnitus, fatigue, excessive sweating, heavy breathing, pressure in the chest, hands and feet that fall asleep or experience tingling, etc.
Causes that can produce hypertension
There are many factors which can be responsible for hypertension. Among the most usual ones we can distinguish the following:
– Heritable genetic factors: The risk of hypertension is double in people whose parents or relatives are also hypertensive.
– Organic causes: Hypertension is sometimes produces by a malfunction of the mechanisms governing personal blood pressure.
– Inadequate food: An inadequate diet, rich in salt and saturated fats raises blood pressure.
– Obesity: Obese people are two to three times more likely to suffer from this disease than those who are not overweight.
– Age: As people are aging, there is a hardening of the arteries, which impedes the passage of blood through them and leads to a blood pressure increase. There is a clear risk factor from 65 years on.
– Sex and hypertension: Men are more likely than women to suffer from hypertension. Women, as a rule, are more protected than men by the influence of female hormones or estrogens. However, this protection disappears during menopause, when women are more likely to suffer from this disease than men.
Activities involving sexual intercourse increase blood pressure and heart rate, returning to normal levels after orgasm. In spite of this, sex is appropriate for the person having high blood pressure because it provides a good exercise for heart. Often drugs taken for high blood pressure decrease the possibility of having a better sexual relationship.
– Hypertension and Pregnancy: During pregnancy there is the possibility of experiencing a particular type of hypertension called preeclampsia, which is produced because pregnant women are prone to accumulate liquids. Sometimes more severe forms of toxemia appear during pregnancy requiring immediate hospitalization. (eclampsia) Similarly, contraceptive pills increase the risk for hypertension so it is advisable for women taking these contraceptives to control their blood pressure more frequently than those who do not take them.
– Stress: Permanent stress tends to cause this disease. There are studies showing that the economic situation of an individual can generate stress. Stress increases blood pressure. It is stated that people with lower-paid jobs, or those who own very little money show higher rates of hypertension.
– Alcohol and hypertension: Many experts say that a moderate use of alcohol promotes circulation, can lower high blood pressure and prevents many heart or circulatory diseases. There are many interesting studies about red wine that show that this type of wine contains a phytochemical called resveratrol, whose role in the circulatory system can be positive.
However, a non moderate use of alcohol increases blood pressure and the possibility of going into alcoholism. A daily intake exceeding 40 g of alcohol may cause an increase in blood pressure.
– Tobacco and hypertension: Tobacco is one of the worst enemies of the circulatory system. In addition to producing numerous vascular diseases, it prevents substances or treatments that could help against hypertension to be absorbed by the body. Smokers do not benefit from anti-hypertension medicines so much as those who do not smoke.
– Coffee and hypertension: Coffee, because of its content in caffeine, is a very strong stimulant that increases blood pressure. A continuous use and abuse of coffee can trigger this disease. This beverage is not recommended for people with hypertension. Similarly, a moderate consumption of other beverages that contain the same principle, such as tea, is bad for hypertensive individuals.
– Time of day: Blood pressure is lower during the night and higher in the early hours of the morning.
– Seasons of year and hypertension: Winter is the season when blood pressure is higher.
– Race and hypertension: Colored people are more likely to suffer from hypertension. Some studies carried out in the United States concluded that black people were as much as 33% more likely to suffer from hypertension.
More information about high blood pressure.