Hypertension – What you should know?
Many of you must have often heard about a parent or a grandparent telling you that they have “high blood pressure” or hypertension? What exactly is hypertension? What should be the normal blood pressure? What are the effects of high blood pressure? What should be done to avoid the effects of high blood pressure? How is hypertension caused?
Hypertension or high blood pressure is the term given to the lateral pressure exerted by the blood on the walls of the arteries as it flows in them. Consider a tube through which water is flowing. If you make a small hole in the tube water jets out of the tube due to this pressure. The origins of this pressure is from the pumping action of the heart which generates the pressure. This pressure is expressed in millimeters of mercury. What is the normal blood pressure? While many people think that 120/80 mm Hg is the normal (and indeed it is) we generally label anyone who has a pressure of 140/90 mm Hg as having normal blood pressure and anything above this is high blood pressure. The value in the numerator is the Systolic pressure (the pressure at which the heart is contracting to expel blood into the arteries) and the value in the denominator is the Diastolic pressure(the pressure at which the heart is relaxing so that it can get its own blood supply.)
As to the causes of hypertension, 95% of the cases are what we describe as “Idiopathic” – meaning no cause can be attributed to why these patients have high blood pressure. Most often genetics seem to play a significant role and relatives are seen to have hypertension very often. Thus if you have a parent or both parents with hypertension, then you are a strong candidate to develop hypertension. In 5% of the people with hypertension other causes like kidney diseases, tumors secreting Adrenaline can lead to the development of the high blood pressure.
Some factors aggravate hypertension and include excess salt in diet, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, stress and these need to be curbed to ensure that the risks do not get added. Hypertension is directly responsible in the occurence of heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, problems with vision, heart failure and even death if the pressures are extremely high. High blood pressure in pregnany (a condition called as preeclampsia) can lead to several complications including maternal and infant deaths. The sad part of hypertension is that there are virtually no symptoms until advanced stages of organ damage. Hypertension is not curable but controllable with medications called as anti-hypertensives.
Get your blood pressure checked regularly by a physician, especially if you have a family history.