All you need to know about High Blood Pressure

Posted in , , , by Miss Kornelija Dedelaite

What is high blood pressure?

Narrow blood vessels in your body, sometimes referred to as arteries, provide greater blood flow resistance. Your blood pressure will rise the more narrow your arteries are as they provide greater resistance. The elevated pressure over time may lead to various health problems, such as heart disease.

Hypertension is quite common. Typically, hypertension develops over several years. In most cases, there are no symptoms at all. However, high blood pressure can harm your blood vessels and organs, particularly the kidneys, heart, brain, and eyes, even if you don’t have any symptoms.

It’s critical to spot problems early. Frequent blood pressure checks can assist both your physician and you in identifying any changes. If your blood pressure is elevated, your doctor might want you to monitor it for a few weeks to determine if it returns to normal or remains elevated.

Prescription medicine and healthy lifestyle modifications are both part of the treatment for hypertension. Untreated conditions may result in heart attacks and strokes, among other health problems.

How to understand high blood pressure readings

A reading of blood pressure is made up of two numbers. The top number, or systolic pressure, represents the pressure within your arteries during a heartbeat as blood is pumping. The measurement of the pressure in your arteries in between heartbeats is called diastolic pressure (bottom number).

In the UK there are different categories of healthy blood pressure:

  • “Normal blood pressure is usually considered to be between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80 mmHg. For over-80s, because it’s normal for arteries to get stiffer as we get older, the ideal blood pressure is under 150/90 mmHg (or 145/85 mmHg at home).
  • High-normal blood pressure, sometimes called ‘pre-hypertension’, is when you don’t have an ideal blood pressure but you also don’t have high blood pressure. It’s usually considered to be between 120/80 mmHg and 140/90 mmHg. Being at this level might prompt you to live a healthier lifestyle so you don’t develop high blood pressure.”

There are three different stages of high blood pressure:

  • “Stage one: this is when your blood pressure is between 140/90 mmHg and 160/100 mmHg in the clinic, or 135/85 mmHg to 150/95 mmHg at home.
  • Stage two: this is when your blood pressure is between 160/100 mmHg and 180/120 mmHg in the clinic, or over 150/95 mmHg at home.
  • Stage three: this is when your systolic blood pressure is over 180 mmHg or your diastolic blood pressure is over 120 mmHg in the clinic. This stage is also called ‘severe hypertension’, and your GP will need to assess you urgently for further investigations.”

A pressure cuff is used to take a blood pressure reading. It’s critical that your cuff fits in order to get an accurate reading. A cuff that fits poorly could give false readings. Children and teenagers have varying blood pressure readings. Ask your doctor what the healthy levels are for them, if you are urged to keep an eye on your child’s blood pressure.

What are the symptoms of hypertension?

In most cases, hypertension is a quiet illness. Many will not show any symptoms at all. It could take years or even decades for the illness to worsen to the point where symptoms start to show. However, other problems could be the cause of similar symptoms.

Symptoms of hypertension can include:

  • flushing
  • blood spots in the eyes
  • dizziness

Contrary to common belief, nosebleeds and headaches are not usually associated with severe hypertension, unless a person is experiencing a hypertensive crisis, according to the American Heart Association.

Taking frequent blood pressure readings is the most effective technique to determine whether you have hypertension. Every appointment, the majority of doctor’s offices take a blood pressure reading.

Consult your doctor about your risks for hypertension and any additional readings you might require to help you manage your blood pressure if you only have annual physicals.

For instance, your doctor might advise getting your blood pressure checked twice a year if you have a family history of heart disease or other risk factors for the illness. This keeps you and your physician informed of any potential problems before they become serious.

What are the causes of hypertension?

There are two main types of hypertension – primary and secondary. Both have different causes:

Primary hypertension:

This kind of hypertension affects most people. The development of this type of hypertension takes time. Primary hypertension usually results from the following confluence of factors:

  • Genes: A hereditary predisposition to hypertension exists in certain individuals. Gene mutations or genetic anomalies acquired from your parents could be the cause of this.
  • Age: People over 65 have a higher chance of developing hypertension.
  • Living with obesity: Being obese can cause hypertension and other heart-related problems.
  • High alcohol consumption: Men and women who regularly consume more than two drinks a day and more than one drink a day, respectively, may be more susceptible to hypertension.
  • Leading an inactive lifestyle: there is a link between hypertension and poorer fitness levels.
  • Living with diabetes and/or metabolic syndrome: People who have been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome or diabetes are more likely to develop hypertension.
  • High sodium consumption: There is a link between hypertension and a daily high sodium intake of more than 1.5 grams.

Secondary hypertension:

Secondary hypertension occurs rapidly and is usually much more severe than primary hypertension. It can result from a number of conditions including the following:

  • kidney disease
  • obstructive sleep apnoea
  • congenital heart defects
  • problems with your thyroid
  • side effects of medications
  • use of illegal drugs
  • chronic consumption of alcohol
  • adrenal gland problems
  • certain endocrine tumours

How to diagnose hypertension?

Taking a blood pressure reading is all that is needed to diagnose hypertension. The majority of medical offices take blood pressure as part of a standard visit. Make a request for a blood pressure check if you don’t get one at your next appointment.

Your doctor might ask to take further measurements over the course of a few days or weeks if your blood pressure is elevated. Seldom is hypertension diagnosed based on a single reading.

Your physician needs proof of a persistent issue. This is due to the fact that certain environmental factors, such as the anxiety you could experience in the doctor’s office, can raise blood pressure. Additionally, blood pressure varies during the course of the day naturally.

Your doctor will probably order additional testing to rule out any underlying issues if your blood pressure doesn’t go down. These examinations may consist of:

  • cholesterol screening and other blood tests
  • test of your heart’s electrical activity with an electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • ultrasound of your heart or kidneys
  • home blood pressure monitors to check your blood pressure over a 24-hour period at home

Your doctor can use these tests to see whether there are any other problems contributing to your high blood pressure. They can also examine the potential consequences of high blood pressure on your organs.

Your doctor might start treating your hypertension at this period. Receiving treatment early can lower your chance of long-term harm.

What can you do to reduce high blood pressure?

You can manage the variables that lead to hypertension by making healthy lifestyle adjustments. These are a handful of the more common ones:

Improve your diet

It is essential to follow a heart-healthy diet in order to lower high blood pressure. It’s also critical for controlling hypertension and lowering the chance of problems. Heart disease, stroke, and heart attacks are some of these problems. Include more vegetable, fruit, lean protein (such as fish) and whole grains in your diet.

Exercise more

Exercising can help lower blood pressure naturally. The UK government recommends the following:

  • at least 150 minutes moderate intensity activity, 75 minutes’ vigorous activity, or a mixture of both
  • strengthening activities on two days
  • reducing extended periods of sitting

Reduce stress

While exercise is a great way to reduce stress, there are other things you can do to calm yourself and be more mindful including:

  • meditation
  • deep breathing
  • massage
  • muscle relaxation
  • yoga or tai chi

Quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake

Your doctor would probably urge you to stop smoking if you have high blood pressure and smoke. Tobacco smoke contains compounds that can harden blood vessel walls and harm bodily tissues.

If you consistently drink too much alcohol or have an alcohol addiction, get help cutting back on your intake or quitting completely. Excessive alcohol use can cause blood pressure to rise.

How does hypertension affect your body?

Since hypertension frequently goes undiagnosed, harm to the body might occur for years before symptoms appear. If your hypertension is left untreated, you could have life-threatening consequences.

Hypertension can result in several complications:

Damaged arteries

Strong and flexible arteries indicate good health. In healthy arteries and vessels, blood flows freely and unhindered.

Arteries become less elastic, more rigid, and taut with hypertension. Dietary fats can more easily accumulate in your arteries and obstruct blood flow as a result of this injury. Increased blood pressure, blockages, and ultimately heart attacks and strokes can result from this damage.

Heart damage

Your heart works too hard when you have hypertension. Your heart’s muscles have to pump harder and more frequently than a healthy heart should because of the elevated blood vessel pressure.

This could lead to cardiac enlargement. An enlarged heart makes the following conditions more likely for you:

  • heart failure
  • arrhythmias
  • sudden cardiac death
  • heart attack

Damage to brain

For optimal function, your brain needs a healthy flow of blood that is high in oxygen. Your brain’s blood supply can be reduced by untreated high blood pressure:

  • Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) are brief stops in the blood supply to the brain.
  • Significant blood flow obstructions result in the death of brain cells. We call this a stroke.

Uncontrolled hypertension can also impair memory, learning, recall, speaking, and reasoning. The effects of uncontrolled hypertension are frequently not eliminated or reversed by treating the condition. However, it does lessen the likelihood of upcoming issues.

What can you do about hypertension?

In the UK, hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a rather prevalent medical condition.

Your treatment strategy will change based on a number of factors if you were recently diagnosed with high blood pressure. These include the degree of your hypertension and the prescription that your doctor believes will be most effective for you.

The good news is that lifestyle modifications can often be effective strategies for controlling or even curing hypertension. Increasing the number of fruits and vegetables in your diet, increasing your physical activity, cutting back on sodium, and consuming less alcohol are some of these adjustments.

Additionally, getting a comprehensive health assessment can put your mind at ease. We understand that hypertension is not the worst condition and can be managed with lifestyle changes and medication, but if left unchecked it can spiral into very serious illnesses or even death. As such, at Echelon Health we aim to do our best to check your health as thoroughly as possible.

Measuring your blood pressure is part of our flagship Platinum Assessment, and if you have an elevated rate on the day it will be noted and dealt with accordingly – repeat check another time and tracking when necessary. Of course, it wouldn’t be the flagship assessment if that is all it consisted of.

Echelon Health’s Platinum Assessment is best equipped at detecting various diseases. In fact, with the Platinum Assessment, we are able to detect up to 92% and 95% of the preventable causes of death among men and women respectively.

The full list of scans that are included in the Platinum Assessment is as follows:

  • Medical Questionnaire
  • Blood Test
  • ECG
  • CT Aorta
  • CT Heart
  • CT Coronary Angiogram
  • CT Chest
  • CT Pelvis
  • CT Virtual Colonoscopy
  • CT Bone Density
  • CT Upright Skeleton
  • MRI Brain
  • MRI Cerebral Artery Angiogram
  • MRI Carotid Artery Angiogram
  • MRI Prostate
  • Ultrasound Thyroid
  • Ultrasound Testes/Ovaries
  • Digital Mammogram
  • Full Body Mole Screen
  • Final consultation

By choosing a reputable provider like Echelon Health you gain access to cutting-edge technology and the power of early detection. Early intervention can significantly improve outcomes for various diseases, ensuring a higher quality of life.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our team! We will be delighted to help.