As the heart pumps out blood throughout the body, the blood pushes against the walls of the arteries.
The amount of force it exerts is known as blood pressure. Having overly high blood pressure (hypertension) can be a sign of many medical conditions and cause many others.
High blood pressure isn’t something that happens overnight. In many cases, high blood pressure develops gradually and may not be noticed for a long period of time. In many cases, symptoms don’t show until reaching extreme levels of hypertension in the body. Blood pressure can be easily checked by a doctor or nurse. From there, steps can be taken to help lower a person’s blood pressure. The choices that need to be made can be inconvenient, but they’ll typically improve health and quality of life.
Causes of High Blood Pressure
There’s two kinds of high blood pressure. The first is known as primary hypertension. In these cases, there’s no real reason in which a person’s blood pressure increases. It just keeps going up over the course of several years.
Secondary versions of hypertension come from other issues in the body. This type of blood pressure can rise much more rapidly than the long term increases in the primary type. People who suffer from sleep apnea, thyroid issues, tumors in the adrenal glands, kidney problems or have a congenital defect in the blood vessels can suffer from secondary hypertension. It can also occur when people take drugs or from some medications that may be taken.
Consequences of High Blood Pressure
The consequences and the complications of high blood pressure are why treating it is so important. Dangerous issues can go along with uncontrolled high blood pressure. They include:
- Stroke - When blood pressure is high, arteries thicken and plaques can build up. It’s possible for people to suffer from a stroke or heart attack.
- Heart Failure - The arteries aren’t the only thing which can thicken. It’s very possible for the muscles of the heart to thicken. From there, the heart muscles don’t perform properly. It weakens until it can fail.
- Aneurysms - Blood vessels can become weak and form a bulge. These aneurysms can rupture and create a life threatening situation.
- Vision Loss - It’s possible for the blood vessels in the eyes to become damaged in a variety of ways. In turn, this can cause vision loss.
- Kidney Issues - The blood vessels of the kidney can become damaged and stop the kidneys from performing their normal functions.
- Dementia and Memory Issues - High blood pressure can affect a person’s mental abilities. They struggle to remember and learn. In some serious cases, the brain can have limited blood flow which leads to a type of dementia.
Lowering Blood Pressure
Once a doctor has confirmed high blood pressure, they will find a way to start treatment. Likely the first thing to do will be a change in diet. This change often comes at a price. Many of the foods that people love include high levels of salt that can affect blood pressure. Losing these from the diet hurts. Other steps will include becoming more healthy in other ways. Exercise is going to be a must. A healthy body weight makes a big difference in keeping blood pressure down. People who drink will likely have their alcohol intake limited to a much lower level. Smokers will have to give that up.
When a lifestyle change isn’t enough, then medication can often be the next step. Medication for blood pressure is taken to try to reduce blood pressure to a moderate level. There are a variety of different medications which are better for different people. Some try to reduce blood volume, others can try to relax thickened blood vessels. Doctors have plenty of options to help their patients.