What is hypertension?
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a condition that causes the blood to move through your arteries with too much force. Hypertension causes damage to the arteries and blood vessels and can even cause damage to the heart.
Hypertension usually shows no symptoms and can go unnoticed for some time. Patients who do show symptoms experience frequent headaches, shortness of breath, and nosebleeds.
What causes hypertension?
In most cases, the cause of high blood pressure is unknown. Certain risk factors are associated with the condition, including:
- High sodium diet
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Low potassium diet
Some conditions can cause a sudden increase in blood pressure. This is referred to as secondary hypertension. These conditions include:
- Kidney-related conditions
- Thyroid-related conditions
- Congenital defects of the blood vessels
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Adrenal gland tumors
High blood pressure leaves you at risk for a number of complications like aneurysms, heart failure, and vascular dementia. High blood pressure is typically diagnosed during annual exams with your primary doctor.
How is hypertension treated?
Before you can begin treatment, your doctor must determine the severity of your condition. Your doctor measures your blood pressure using a blood pressure monitor. Blood pressure monitors measure systolic and diastolic pressure.
Systolic pressure is the amount of pressure in your arteries as your heart beats and diastolic pressure is the amount of pressure in between beats. Normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg or below. If one or both numbers measure higher, you’ll be diagnosed with elevated blood pressure, stage 1 hypertension, or stage 2 hypertension.
The first step in treating hypertension is making lifestyle modifications. Diet and exercise play a major role in high blood pressure. Eating a diet lower in sodium, getting regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy body weight are effective ways to control high blood pressure.
In many cases, however, diet and exercise aren’t enough to get blood pressure under control. In these instances, your doctor prescribes blood pressure medication. At Heal 360, your doctor sits down with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your overall health.
To learn more about managing hypertension, visit one of the Heal 360 offices or book an appointment by phone or online.