Arterial hypertension is the abnormal and long increase of the pressure that makes the blood circulates through the arteries, that why the disease is called high blood pressure. To reach the entire organism, the blood pumped by the heart exerts a natural force against the internal walls of the arteries. The vessels offer some resistance to this passage and create a dispute that determines the blood pressure. But how do I know if I have high blood pressure?
Throughout the day, the pressure may vary. In a person that is lying down, the pressure is low, however, when that persons stands up, the brain notices that more energy is needed to keep the body moving.
The pressure is shown in millimeters of mercury. Someone is diagnosed with hypertension from the moment their pressure is equal to 14 or 9 most of the time. When this limit is passed, the risk of developing cardiovascular and kidney diseases is significantly greater.
How is the device used?
To measure the pressure, a device called sphygmomanometer is used. It is placed around the arm and a stethoscope is used to listen to the chest sounds.
The first number records the moment your heart releases the blood. This is the systolic pressure or maximum pressure – it’s recommended that this number doesn’t go higher than 12mmHg.
The second value corresponds to the diastolic pressure, or minimum pressure. The ideal value is around 8mmHg, being more easily know as 12 by 8. When the pressure is out of control, the heart is the most affected organ, because the circulation is suffering damages.
The coronary arteries get tight and don’t get enough blood and oxygenation. This condition leads to a suffering of the heart muscle, which might cause a stroke. The stroke, also known an CVA (cerebral vascular accident) is part of a frequent consequence of hypertension.
The constant pressure aggression that affect the pressure and the arteries in the head are unable to dilate and become susceptible to clogging.
In moments of hypertensive peaks, they end up as a fuse for a vessel to get destroyed or ruptured.
High blood pressure also causes a variety of minor obstructions and hemorrhages in the brain. After a long period, these episodes destroy the neurons, causing a condition called vascular dementia and memory loss.
The kidneys also fail to filter the blood properly when hypertension sets in for a long period, which might cause kidney failure.
Signals and symptoms
Hypertension happens in a silent way. The symptoms mentioned above suggest a more advanced stage. It’s ideal to detect it through exams.
- Shortness of breath
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ear
- Chest pains
Family history: children of hypertensive parents have a 30% risk of having it too.
Age: After 60 years of age, the arteries lose their flexibility.
Ethnicity: This disease is more likely to happen to black and Asian people.
- Irregular sleep
- Menopause: the decreasing of female hormones damage the arteries
- Excessive alcoholic drinks
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Kidney diseases
- Sleep apnea
When you adhere to a healthier lifestyle, positive influences come back to your health.
Putting an end to sedentary lifestyle, especially by practicing aerobic activities causes the release of nitric oxide, which is a vasodilating substance.
When the arteries are relaxed, they tend to keep the pressure low.
It’s important to mention that, during training, the pressure might increase a bit, that’s why hypertensive patients should watch out for exercising and seek the supervision of a professional.
A diet is important to prevent high blood pressure and the patient should stick to a diet that is able to fight hypertension.
It was created in 1997 and was based on generous doses of vegetables, fruits, greens and whole grains, in order to fight high pressure.
Those are foods rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium, minerals that cause the regulation of the bloods vessels and heart contraction.
Sodium consumption must be moderate. This is the main component of table salt and it represents a risk.
The World Health Organization recommend eating a maximum of 5 grams of salt a day, which is the equivalent to a teaspoon.
Foods that contain sodium must be taken into account, due to their composition, such as bread rolls, spices and processed products.
Nowadays, it’s estimated that Brazilian people consume approximately twice as much sodium as recommended, what explains why 30% of the population is hypertensive.
Not smoking, not drinking in excess and avoiding insomnia are welcomed attitudes.
It’s important to have some leisure time, which is capable of causing a feeling of satisfaction and prevents stress.
Hypertension doesn’t show any signs, but it’s worth mentioning that you should measure your pressure at least once a year. You can make an appointment with a general practitioner or a specialized doctor and inform them if any relatives suffer from this disease.
To confirm that someone has high blood pressure, the pressure must be measured in three different days. The patient should avoid drinking coffee or stimulating drinks before each appointment.
During the exam, you shouldn’t talk nor move. These are important details, so the result is as reliable as possible.
In case of any doubts, the professional requests an exam that monitors the pressure for a period of 24 hours. This exam is called holter.
The measurement helps to identify this condition before pre-hypertension phase, renaming the high blood pressure. This classification includes those with blood pressure above 12 by 8 and below 14 by 9, when hypertension is already defined.
This intermediate range can cause eventual damages and also reveals that the person has twice the risk of becoming hypertensive.
The sooner these exams are made, the greater the chance of avoiding future problems and preventing the disease from settling for good.
Pregnant women require even more attention. Preventing pre-eclampsia is really important. It is a complication during pregnancy and might increase blood pressure.
The condition mentioned above tend to increase the possibility of premature birth. In case it is not controlled, it can evolve to eclampsia, causing the woman to have seizures and offering a risk to her life and the baby’s life too.
It’s possible to manage hypertension in some parts just by making some changes in your diet, by practicing physical exercise and controlling your stress levels, which ban be effective for some people.
In order not to start taking medications immediately, the health professional relies on good overall test results, such as blood glucose, cholesterol and whether the kidneys are working correctly or not.
The absence of the identification of the cardiovascular problems is also taken into account. This factor is important from the moment the doctor finds out if the person smokes or not.
Evolutions happen in a periodic way. In general, after six months, the patient will measure their pressure again.