What is hypertension?

When the heart beats, it creates a pressure that pushes blood through a network of blood vessels. This pressure is known as Blood Pressure. The normal blood pressure for an individual is 120/80 mmHg. Hypertension or High Blood pressure happens when there is persistently elevated pressure in the blood vessels. Your blood pressure changes throughout the day based on your activities When hypertension persists, strong blood force can damage the arteries and affect the heart rate. This can cause serious complications such as heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.

Types of Hypertension

• Primary Hypertension – tends to develop gradually over time. There is no identifiable cause of the high blood pressure.

• Secondary hypertension – appears suddenly and is due to underlying conditions or medications (ex: Kidney disease, Thyroid problems, birth control pills, decongestants).

Causes of Hypertension

Researchers have not yet discovered the exact cause of hypertension but the disease is often rooted in these:

• Excessive consumption of salty foods

• Smoking and drinking alcohol

• Lack of calcium, magnesium, and potassium

• Being overweight and lack of exercise

• Stress and anxiety

• Genetics

• Age (risk increases as one ages)

Symptoms of Hypertension

Most people with Hypertension have no signs or symptoms, hence its often referred to as the “silent killer.” Symptoms are usually felt when the illness is severe. The only one way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have a medical professional measure it. Measuring your blood pressure is quick and painless. As individuals, you can purchase a blood pressure monitor to help you monitor yours.

• Frequent fatigue

• Headache

• Chest pain

• Blurred vision

• Difficulty in breathing

• Irregular heartbeat

Having a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet is the most effective weapon against high blood pressure. To avoid this condition, practice the following:

• Do not eat too much salty food. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends to reduce the intake to under 5g to help decrease the risk of hypertension and other related health problems.

• Lose weight. Weight reduction causes a drop in blood pressure because the heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood around the body. Be physically active. Moderate-intensity exercise (ex: brisk walking, bicycling) at least 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week is recommended.

• Limit alcohol consumption. Blood pressure can increase by moderate to heavy alcohol intake. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that males have no more than two alcoholic drinks per day, while women have no more than one. One drink would consist of the following:

o a 12-ounce (oz) bottle of beer

o 4 oz of wine

o 1.5 oz of 80-proof spirits

o 1 oz of 100-proof spirits

• Quit or avoid smoking. Nicotine increases your blood pressure and heart rate, narrows and hardens your arteries, and makes your blood more prone to clotting.

• Avoid extreme fatigue and stress. Blood pressure may be controlled by avoiding or learning how to handle stress.

• Participate in relaxing activities such as meditation. Relaxation activities such as meditation, warm baths, yoga, and just taking long walks can help reduce stress will help control your blood pressure.

Early intervention is key to prevention. Consult your doctor for professional medical advise for any of your health concerns.