What is Hypertension?
Hypertension is a medical condition which is caused by persistently elevated blood pressure in the arteries. This pressure is caused by the beating of the heart as it pumps blood to the whole body through the arteries. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing up against the blood vessel walls. The higher the pressure the harder the heart has to pump.
The problem with high blood pressure is that it can lead to damaged organs and other medical complications such as renal failure (kidney failure), aneurysm, heart failure, stroke, or heart attack. The normal blood pressure is 120/80, 120 being the systolic measurement (peak pressure in the arteries) and 80 being the diastolic measurement (minimum pressure in the arteries). Blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 is called prehypertension (to denote increased risk of hypertension), and a blood pressure of 140/90 or above is considered hypertension.
There are two types of hypertension: primary or essential and secondary. Essential hypertension is hypertension that has an unknown cause. Secondary hypertension is the term for high blood pressure with a known direct cause, such as kidney disease, tumors, or birth control pills. The cause of hypertension is unknown, yet there are risk factors which can bring about this disease such as smoking, obesity or being overweight, being obese/overweight as a child, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, lack of physical activity, high levels of salt intake (sodium sensitivity), insufficient calcium, potassium, and magnesium consumption, vitamin D deficiency, high levels of alcohol consumption, stress, aging, medicines such as birth control pills, genetics and a family history of hypertension, chronic kidney disease and adrenal and thyroid problems or tumors.
Hypertension can bring about symptoms such as severe headaches, fatigue or confusion, dizziness, nausea, problems with vision, chest pains, breathing problems, irregular heartbeat and blood in the urine. Hypertension may be diagnosed by a medical professional with the use of a device called a sphygmomanometer – the device with the arm cuff, dial, pump, and valve. The systolic and diastolic numbers will be recorded; if the pressure is greater than 140/90, you will be considered to have hypertension. Medical history and physical examination is also done to support the diagnosis. If hypertension seems reasonable, tests such as electrocardiograms (EKG) and echocardiograms will be used in order to measure electrical activity of the heart and to assess the physical structure of the heart. Additional blood tests will also be required to identify possible causes of secondary hypertension and to measure renal function, electrolyte levels, sugar levels, and cholesterol levels.
Proper Diagnosis Is Needed To Treat Resistant Hypertension
A recent article published in the recent issue of Deutsches Ãrzteblatt International has shown that high blood pressure treatment often fails due to inadequate diagnosis. The researchers pointed out that failure of medications to control hypertension may be due to a number of reasons. It may be due to the medications given to the patient because while antihypertensive medications lower blood pressure, some medications can actually raise blood pressure as a side effect. In these cases it would seem that the treatment given for hypertension appears to be ineffective. An example of food which can cause elevated blood pressure levels is licorice; other examples include salt-rich foods such as chips and salted meat.
Another factor that may increase high blood pressure is symptom. Certain conditions which bring about pain and discomfort in the form of difficulty of breathing or palpitations can actually raise blood pressure. Once the condition is successfully treated, hypertension may improve. Thus rigorous diagnosis should be done for antihypertensive treatment to be effective.
More medical breakthroughs are featured on this site.