High blood pressure (Hypertension)

High blood pressure (Hypertension)

High blood pressure (Hypertension)

  • 12th June 2021

About Blood pressure

The force at which blood pumps from the heart into the arteries is called blood pressure. A normal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mm Hg.

In case of high blood pressure, the blood moves through the arteries more forcefully, putting pressure on the delicate tissues in the arteries and damaging the blood vessels.

Hypertension is known as a “silent killer”. Normally, it usually doesn’t cause symptoms until there’s significant damage done to the heart. Most people are unaware that they have high blood pressure.

Both the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries, determine the blood pressure. The more blood pumped by your heart, and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.


Causes for hypertension


There are two types of high blood pressure: 

A) Primary (essential) hypertension

In most adults, there is no identifiable cause for high blood pressure. This type of high blood pressure is called primary (essential) hypertension. It develops gradually over many years.

B) Secondary hypertension

Some people have high blood pressure caused by certain conditions. This type of high blood pressure is called secondary hypertension. It appears suddenly and causes higher blood pressure than primary hypertension.


Certain conditions and medications can lead to secondary hypertension, including


  •    Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines

  •    Obstructive sleep apnea

  •    Certain medications, such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain         relievers, and some prescription drugs

  •     Certain defects you're born with (congenital) in blood vessels

  •     Kidney disease

  •     Adrenal gland tumors

  •     Thyroid problems


Symptoms of high blood pressure

There are almost no or very few symptoms associated with High blood pressure. Many people suffer from Hypertension and they just have no idea about that.

Although hypertension is symptomless, it doesn’t mean that it is harmless. Uncontrolled hypertension, in fact, causes damage to your arteries, especially the arteries of kidneys and eyes. High blood pressure is also a risk factor for stroke and heart attack, and other cardiovascular problems.

Rare symptoms and emergency symptoms for hypertension

Although it’s rare, people with chronic high blood pressure may have these symptoms:


Nasal bleeding
Dizzy spells
Dull headaches


Usually, when there are sudden blood pressure spikes and extremely enough to be considered a medical emergency, then symptoms are visible. This situation is called a hypertensive crisis.
A systolic pressure of 180 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher or a diastolic pressure of 120 mm Hg or higher is known as hypertensive crisis. It can damage blood vessels. More often, it is caused by skipping medications or secondary high blood pressure.
While checking your own blood pressure and getting a reading that is high, wait for a few minutes and then check again to make sure the first reading was correct.


Symptoms of a hypertensive crisis may include

severe headache or migraine
shortness of breath
severe anxiety
chest pain
vision changes


After waiting a few minutes, if your blood pressure reading is still 180 or above, don’t wait. Seek medical service immediately.

Hypertensive crisis can result in severe complications, including

•    seizures in pregnant women with eclampsia
•    fluid in the lungs
•    a tear in the aorta, the body’s main artery
•    brain swelling or bleeding



Dietary changes

If your blood pressure is mildly increased, healthy eating can help you a lot.  It is recommended to eat foods low in sodium and high in potassium. 


Safe food that helps to lower down blood pressure 

A basic diet plan prescribed by a doctor, to keep blood pressure in control is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.

The main goal of this diet is to provide low sodium and low cholesterol foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.


List of food that is safe if you are having high blood pressure

(Not all are safe for weight loss)

Heart-healthy foods Foods to be avoided
fish rich in omega-3 fatty oils Red meat
broccoli and carrots Fats and sweets
apples, bananas, and oranges sugar-rich foods and drinks
brown rice and whole-wheat pasta  

It is also recommended to restrict the intake of alcohol while trying to manage your high blood pressure. It is recommended to have a maximum of 2 drinks for men and 1 drink for women.


Apart from dietary intervention, exercise is another lifestyle change required for the management of high blood pressure. 30 minutes of aerobics and cardio, 5 days a week is a heart-healthy routine. These exercises will get the blood pumping.
You will be able to achieve a healthy weight with the intervention of a good diet and exercise. This will help you in managing lower cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Other risks caused by being overweight are also decreased.
Limiting and managing stress is also a beneficial way to treat high blood pressure. Stress can raise your blood pressure. You can do meditation, exercise, enjoy music, or may try something interesting for you to manage your stress.


Risk factors associated with high blood pressure:

High blood pressure has many risk factors, some of them are: 


The risk of high blood pressure increases with age. While high blood pressure is more common in men until the age of 64, women develop high blood pressure after 65.

Family history

Hypertension tends to run in families.

Being overweight or obese

As your weight increases, you need more blood to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. Increased blood flow through your blood vessels puts pressure on your artery walls.

Physically inactive

The heart rate is higher in inactive persons. The higher the heart rate, the harder your heart works with each contraction and larger the force on your arteries. Inactive people also are at risk of being overweight.


High blood pressure is more common in African heritage as compared to whites. Complications associated with high blood pressure are also more prominent in African heritage.

Increased salt (sodium) intake

Sodium is directly connected with water retention in the body, which increases blood pressure.

Less intake of potassium

Potassium is responsible for the balance of sodium in your cells. If you don't get enough potassium in your diet, or you lose too much potassium due to dehydration or other health conditions, sodium can build up in your blood.


Chewing or smoking tobacco can raise blood pressure immediately. Also, tobacco can damage your artery walls. This can cause your arteries to narrow and increase your risk of heart disease

Excess alcohol intake

More than one drink a day for women and more than two drinks a day for men can affect blood pressure. Heavy drinking for a long time can damage your heart. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.


Too much stress can lead to temporary increases in blood pressure.

Chronic conditions

Certain chronic conditions also may increase your risk of high blood pressure, including kidney disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea.
Although high blood pressure is common in adults, children may be at risk, too. For some children, high blood pressure is caused by problems with the kidneys or heart. But, poor lifestyle habits — such as an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise — can lead to high blood pressure.

Sometimes a pregnancy may contribute to high blood pressure.
High blood pressure during pregnancy: In some cases, high blood pressure can occur during pregnancy. 

Causes of high blood pressure during pregnancy: 

•    first-time pregnancy
•    being a teen or being over 40 years of age
•    in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other pregnancy-related assistance
•    obesity
•    diabetes
•    chronic high blood pressure
•    lupus
•    kidney disease
•    carrying more than one child (e.g., twins)


High blood pressure 20 weeks after conceiving, can lead to a condition known as preeclampsia. Severe preeclampsia can cause organ damage and even damage to the brain and can bring life-threatening seizures known as eclampsia.
Normally, symptoms of preeclampsia are protein in urine samples, intense headaches, and vision changes. Other symptoms are swelling of the hand and feet, and abdominal pain.
Consequences of high blood pressure during pregnancy: Premature birth early detachment of the placenta and may also require a cesarean delivery.
Mostly, the blood pressure returns to normal after giving birth.

Complications associated with high blood pressure

Higher blood pressure for a long time can cause greater damage.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to complications:

Heart attack or stroke

Due to high blood pressure, the walls of arteries become hard and thick, which can lead to heart stroke or some other complications

Heart failure

To pump blood against the higher pressure in your vessels, the heart has to work harder. This makes the walls of the heart's pumping chamber thick. Eventually, the thickened muscle may have a hard time pumping enough blood to meet your body's needs, which can lead to heart failure.

Weak and narrow blood vessels in your kidneys

This can prevent these organs from functioning normally.

Thick, narrow, or torn blood vessels in the eyes

This leads to loss of vision


High blood pressure can cause your blood vessels to weaken and bulge, forming an aneurysm. When an aneurysm ruptures, it can be life-threatening.

Metabolic syndrome

This is a group of disorders of your body's metabolism, including increased waist size, high triglycerides, decreased HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high insulin levels. These conditions make you more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

The trouble with memory or understanding

Uncontrolled high blood pressure may affect your ability to think, remember and learn.


Narrowed or blocked arteries can limit blood flow to the brain, leading to a certain type of dementia (vascular dementia)

When to see a doctor for high blood pressure

When the treatment is not working to lower high blood pressure, it’s time to call your doctor. Normally it takes 2 weeks for a new medication to have its full effect.
If there is no change in your blood pressure, it may mean that another treatment is required.

Must call your doctor if you experience:

  • Chest pain

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea

  • Confusion

  • Shortness of breath

  • Blurred vision


These can be the symptoms of something else or a side effect of the medication. In this case, another medicine may need to be prescribed to replace the one causing discomfort.

Some home remedies if you are suffering from high blood pressure



Exercising for 30 to 60 minutes a day is important. It is not only helpful in case of high blood pressure but also benefits your mood, strength, and balance. It manages your weight and decreases your risk of diabetes.

Lose excess weight


Weight and high blood pressure are directly connected to each other. Losing just 4.5 kilograms can lower your blood pressure. Watching your waistline is also critical for controlling blood pressure.
The extra fat around your waist, called visceral fat, is troublesome. It surrounds various organs in the abdomen. This can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure.



 It’s important to step away from your daily responsibilities so you can ease your stress. Stress can temporarily raise your blood pressure. Too much of it can keep your pressure up for extended periods of time. You can do meditation, listen to music, or can get involved in activities in which you are interested.

Follow DASH diet


 Following Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) can lower your blood pressure up to 11 mm Hg systolic.

DASH diet consists of:

. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
. Low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, and nuts
. Restrict foods rich in saturated fats, such as processed foods, full-fat dairy products, and fatty meats.


Keep control of sodium intake


Keeping control of salt intake is vital for high blood pressure. AHA recommends keeping your salt intake between 1500mg to 2300mg. Don’t add salt to your food, if you want to reduce your sodium intake. Use herbs and spices to add flavor to your food.

Quit nicotine addiction


 Smoking temporarily increases your blood pressure for several minutes. People with high blood pressure, when smoke, are at a greater risk of developing fatal high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

Limit Alcohol


 A glass of red wine with dinner is a heart-healthy option. But drinking alcohol in excess amounts has several health issues, including high blood pressure. According to AHA, women should limit themselves to 1 drink a day and men should limit themselves to 2 drinks a day.

Safe food that helps to lower down blood pressure 


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