Blood pressure is the leading cause of premature death and disability in the world. We can call it as a silent killer who can kill any human being if it shoots its level either towards high or minimum.
You probably have high blood pressure (hypertension) if readings are consistently 140 over 90 or higher for a longer period. If you have high blood pressure, this higher pressure puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. Over the period of time, this extra strain increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
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Signs and Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms, so the only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have yours measured. However, high reading for once does not really mean you have high blood pressure. Many things contribute to your blood pressure throughout the day, so your doctor will record several of your blood pressure readings to check if it remains high over time.
Generally, people with very high blood pressure experiences headaches, but it is suggested to visit your GP if you are concerned about symptoms.
Causes of High Blood Pressure
There is no single cause for high blood pressure. You may don’t know exactly what causes high blood pressure. You may have no idea that your lifestyle affects your risk of developing it. You are at a higher risk if:
- you eat too much salt.
- you don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables.
- you are not active enough.
- you are overweight.
- you drink more than moderate alcohol.
You can help to lower your blood pressure and risk of stroke and heart attack by making lifestyle changes such as:
- Lose extra pounds– Weight loss is the most effective lifestyle changes for reducing high blood pressure. Losing just 10 pounds will help to control your blood pressure.
- Exercise regularly– Consistent physical activity at least 30 minutes most days of the week helps to lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). It’s essential to be consistent because if you stop exercising, your blood pressure can rise again.
- Eat a healthy diet– Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and avoiding saturated fat and cholesterol can also help in reducing your blood pressure by up to 14 mm Hg.
- Reduce sodium in your diet– Even a small reduction in the sodium in your diet can reduce blood pressure by 2 to 8 mm Hg. Generally, limiting sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day or less is required. However, a lower sodium intake 1,500 mg a day or less is perfect for people with greater salt sensitivity.
- Limit the amount of alcohol – Drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol can actually raise blood pressure. It also reduces the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.
- Quit smoking – Quitting smoking helps your blood pressure in returning to normal. People who quit smoking, have experienced substantial increases in life expectancy and also a better quality life.
- Reduce your stress– Chronic stress is an important contributor to high blood pressure. Occasional stress also contributes to high blood pressure if you respond to stress by eating unhealthy food, drinking alcohol or smoking. Take some time and think about what causes stress for you, such as work, family, finances or illness. Once you know what’s causing your stress, think about eliminating or reducing stress.
There are some additional factors also that add up your risk of developing high blood pressure, which cannot be controlled. These include:
- Age: With growing age, the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle can get established and your blood pressure can increase.
- Ethnic origin: Masses from African-Caribbean and South Asian communities are at a greater risk than other people with high blood pressure.
- Family history: You are at greater risk if any of the members of your family have, or have had high blood pressure.
Some people have high blood pressure that is connected to the other medical condition, such as kidney problems. For such people treating the medical problem may control their blood pressure.
High Blood Pressure Treatment
There is a wide range of high blood pressure medications. You can take more than one type of medicine because the each one reduces blood pressure in different ways after consulting your physician.
There are majorly 4 types of medicine that doctors use to treat high blood pressure:
- ACE inhibitors – These medicines help to control and hormones that affect blood pressure.
- Angiotensin receptor blockers– These also control hormones that affect blood pressure.
- Calcium channel blockers – These medicines lead the artery walls to relaxation, making them wider, which lowers blood pressure.
- Thiazide diuretics– this medicine clears the not required fluid from the body, which helps to lower the blood pressure.
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Supportive family and friends can help in improving your health. They may motivate you to take care of yourself, visit the doctor’s clinic or take exercise program initiative can keep your blood pressure low. If you think you need support beyond your family and friends, opt for joining a support group. This will keep you in touch with people who can provide you an emotional or moral support and who can offer practical ways to cope with your condition.