Hypertension or high blood pressure is a medical condition wherein
the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated. The arteries in the body deliver the oxygenated blood from the heart to the many different parts of the body. Blood pressure is a measurement of the force or pressure against the arterial walls as the heart pumps through the body.
Hypertension is often dangerous as it can lead to heart failure, heart disease, kidney disease and even strokes. By lowering high blood, it can protect critical organs, such as the brain, heart and kidneys, from damage. Understanding hypertension can help when taking first aid training.
Classification of Hypertension
Blood pressure readings is given in two numbers, written as 120/80 mmHg. The first number is called the systolic blood pressure whereas the second number is called the diastolic blood pressure. Hypertension is classified by how high the blood pressure readings rise.
- Normal blood pressure: less than 120/80 mmHg most of the time
- Prehypertension: anything between 120-139/80-89 mmHg
- Hypertension: greater than 140/90 mmHg
- Stage 1 hypertension: anything between 140-159/90-99 mmHg
- Stage 2 hypertension: anything above 160/100 mmHg
Causes of Hypertension
There are numerous factors that can affect blood pressure. Some of these include:
- Amount of water and salt in the body
- Kidney, nervous system or blood vessel conditions
- Different body hormones level
Oftentimes, the cause of high blood pressure is undetermined. This is called essential hypertension. On the other hand, when high blood pressure is due to a predisposing medical condition, this is called secondary hypertension. Secondary hypertension may be due to:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Adrenal gland disorders
- Diet pills
- Birth control pills
- Cold medications
- Migraine medications
Risk Factors of Hypertension
Certain people are at greater risks for developing hypertension. These risk factors make a person more susceptible to suffering hypertension:
- As one ages, the blood vessels become more stiff
- Too much salt in the diet
- Too much alcohol intake
- Nicotine use
- Often stressed or anxious
- Family history of hypertension
- African American race
Symptoms of Hypertension
There are often no symptoms for hypertension. It is often discovered by having the blood pressure checked during a visit to the doctor. Conversely, in severe cases of hypertension, symptoms may begin to manifest.
- Irregular heartbeat
- Trouble breathing
- Blood in the urine
- Pounding in the chest, neck or ears
- Chest pain
- Vision problems
- Severe headache
Treatment for Hypertension
Anyone with blood pressure readings at prehypertension stage is encouraged to modify their lifestyle and prevent exacerbation of the disease. If one has prehypertension, it is likely to progress to hypertension. It is important to treat for hypertension as soon as it is discovered to avoid heart attack or stroke. There are some lifestyle tips that are recommended for hypertensive patients:
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and limit amount of sodium. If one is obese, it is time to lose weight.
- Drink plenty of water
- Set up a regular exercise pattern, at least 30 minutes a day
- Stop smoking and minimize alcohol intake.
- Reduce stress or find ways to manage stress, such as yoga, meditations, etc.
Take certain medications that help reduce hypertension.