Table of contents:
- Main symptoms
- What causes high blood pressure
- When it is normal to have high blood pressure
- How the diagnosis is confirmed
- How to understand the blood pressure value
- How the treatment should be done
- Hypertension during pregnancy
- Possible complications of hypertension
- How to prevent high blood pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a chronic condition characterized by an increase in blood pressure above 140x90 mmHg. High blood pressure is also known as a silent disease, as in most cases it causes no symptoms, although some people may experience headaches, vision changes, or dizziness.
The most common causes of high blood pressure are a high-s alt diet and lack of regular exercise, but it can also happen due to a he alth problem, such as kidney disease or heart problems.
Treatment always includes dietary care, such as reducing the amount of s alt, but it may also need to be done with medication for high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is a silent condition, which, in most cases, does not cause any symptoms. For this reason, it is very common to have hypertension for several years before any symptoms appear.
Still, when spikes occur in which blood pressure rises very suddenly, symptoms of high blood pressure can arise, such as:
- Sickness and dizziness;
- Ringing in the ear;
- View changes;
- Difficulty breathing.
Whenever any of these symptoms appear, it is very important to make an appointment with a general practitioner to assess the possibility of having hypertension, initiating appropriate treatment. In addition, there are some steps you can take during a spike in high blood pressure to help regulate your blood pressure, such as trying to relax or taking your doctor's prescribed blood pressure medication.
The best way to identify hypertension is to take regular blood pressure measurements, to identify when it is above 140 x 90 mmHg. So, a good strategy might be to have check-ups 2 to 3 times a year with the general practitioner or family doctor, for example.
What causes high blood pressure
High blood pressure appears whenever there is any change that causes difficulty for blood to circulate in blood vessels, increasing the pressure that the heart needs to make for the blood to circulate correctly.
However, depending on the type of hypertension, there are different causes:
Primary hypertension is one that arises over time without being related to any he alth problem or the use of any type of substance or medication and, therefore, the cause is more difficult to identify.
This is the most common type of hypertension and is usually related to factors such as:
- Genetics: some people and families are more likely to have high blood pressure;
- Bad diet: an unhe althy diet such as high intake of s alt, sugar and fried foods can cause changes that increase blood pressure;
- Lack of physical activity: physical exercise is important to maintain the proper functioning of the heart and to regulate blood pressure.
Furthermore, age can also cause blood pressure to rise due to decreased elasticity of blood vessels. It is for this reason that hypertension is also more common in the elderly.
Secondary hypertension is rarer, but usually has easier-to-identify causes such as:
- Kidney disease;
- Heart problems;
- Thyroid changes;
- Use of some medications;
- Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages;
- Hormonal diseases.
When it is normal to have high blood pressure
Having high blood pressure is not always bad, nor does it mean that you have hypertension. It is normal for an increase in blood pressure to occur in completely he althy people, in temporary situations such as exercising, feeling some kind of pain, drinking coffee or living in a stressful situation, for example.
However, the pressure is expected to decrease shortly after these situations. If the pressure remains high for several days, or if it happens very regularly without any apparent cause, it is important to consult a doctor, to assess whether it could really be a situation of high blood pressure.
How the diagnosis is confirmed
Since there are many everyday situations that can increase blood pressure without meaning that you have hypertension, the diagnosis cannot be made with just one blood pressure measurement.
Thus, to confirm the diagnosis it is important that at least 3 blood pressure measurements are taken on three different days with a minimum interval of one week between each measurement. In addition, it is important that the measurements are made by a he alth professional, since it is necessary to know how to measure blood pressure correctly to avoid errors when evaluating the results.
Some doctors may also ask the person to take some measurements at home or at the pharmacy, to rule out the possibility that blood pressure is increased in the office due to white coat syndrome.
When hypertension is suspected, the doctor may also advise performing other tests to help identify a possible cause, such as urinalysis, blood test, electrocardiogram or renal ultrasound.
How to understand the blood pressure value
To understand the blood pressure value it is necessary to know the two values:
- Systolic pressure: this is usually the highest value of the measurement (eg, 135 mmHg) and represents the pressure that is put on the arteries when the heart beats;
- Diastolic pressure: is the lowest value (eg, 65 mmHg) and represents the pressure on the artery walls between each heartbeat.
After measurement, blood pressure is classified according to this chart:
|Rating||Systolic pressure (mmHg)||Diastolic (mmHg)|
|Great||< 120||< 80|
|Normal||< 130||< 85|
|Boundary||130 to 139||85 to 89|
|Stage 1 hypertension||140 to 159||90 to 99|
|Stage 2 Hypertension||160 to 179||100 to 109|
|Stage 3 Hypertension||>=180||>=110|
The higher the stage of hypertension, the greater the risk of serious complications. People with borderline blood pressure and stage 1 hypertension may be able to regulate their blood pressure with just a few lifestyle changes, while people with stage 2 and 3 hypertension often need to take medication prescribed by a doctor.
How the treatment should be done
Treatment for hypertension varies according to the type of hypertension. This is because, in the case of secondary hypertension, it is very important to identify the cause and initiate a treatment aimed at correcting the disease or problem that causes high blood pressure.
In cases of primary hypertension, which is the most common type, lifestyle changes and even medications are usually required to directly regulate blood pressure:
1. Medicines for high blood pressure
Although there are several drugs capable of lowering blood pressure, they are usually only indicated by the doctor when it is not possible to regulate blood pressure only with lifestyle changes such as improving diet and exercising regularly. In these cases, the most commonly used drugs include:
- Diuretics, such as furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide, or spironolactone;
- Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors (ACEIs), such as captopril, enalapril or ramipril;
- Angiotensin receptor antagonists, such as losartan, valsartan, or telmisartan;
- Beta blockers, such as propranolol, atenolol, or carvedilol;
- Calcium channel blockers, such as amlodipine, nifedipine, or nicardipine;
- Vasodilators, such as minoxidil or hydralazine.
These medications can be used alone or in combination, but should always be used in conjunction with lifestyle changes to ensure a better effect on blood pressure.
2. Diet for high blood pressure
Diet for hypertension is one of the most important changes to help lower blood pressure. It is important to eat a he althy, varied diet, low in s alt, sugar and high-fat foods.
Thus, it is important to give preference to fruits, vegetables, cereals and lean proteins, such as white meats and fish, for example.
3. Regular practice of physical exercise
Along with diet, another lifestyle change that is essential is regular physical activity for at least 30 minutes, 3 to 5 times a week.The most targeted exercises to maintain vascular he alth are aerobic ones, such as running, walking, cycling or swimming, for example.
4. Natural Remedies for High Blood Pressure
To complement the doctor-guided treatment there are also some natural remedies that help regulate blood pressure. Some examples are garlic water, olive leaf tea or valerian tea.
These remedies should always be used with the knowledge of the physician and under the guidance of a naturopath.
Hypertension during pregnancy
Hypertension is a condition that can also occur during pregnancy, and that must be well controlled to avoid the emergence of complications that endanger the life of the pregnant woman or the baby.
A complication that can arise with the increase in blood pressure during this phase is preeclampsia, which is characterized by a constant increase in blood pressure and damage to different organs of the body, especially kidneys, lungs and liver, in addition to increasing the risk of prematurity and miscarriage.
When a woman suspects high blood pressure in pregnancy, she should consult her obstetrician and initiate appropriate treatment, which usually includes the use of medication and dietary changes, in order to avoid all complications.
Possible complications of hypertension
When hypertension is not identified and treated properly, several years can pass in which the pressure remains high and creates small lesions in the vessels and organs throughout the body. For this reason, there are several serious complications of hypertension, such as:
The increase in blood pressure makes the heart need to pump harder to be able to send blood throughout the body. When this happens for several years in a row, various problems can arise like:
- Heart failure;
- Angina pectoris.
In addition, people with uncontrolled hypertension are also at increased risk of developing aortic aneurysms and even heart attack.
Due to the increase in blood pressure within the vessels of the brain, various brain injuries can occur, which can cause changes such as memory problems, difficulty learning and even difficulty speaking.
In addition, high blood pressure can cause a decrease in the amount of oxygen reaching the brain, increasing the risk of ischemic stroke.
Rising blood pressure can also damage the fragile blood vessels of the kidneys, increasing the risk of developing kidney failure.
How to prevent high blood pressure
The best way to prevent high blood pressure is to have a he althy lifestyle. For this reason, some actions that can greatly decrease the risk of hypertension include:
- Eat a he althy, balanced, low-s alt diet;
- Avoid excess body weight;
- Exercise regularly, 3 to 5 times a week;
- Avoid excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.
It is also important to have regular blood pressure monitoring, at least 2 to 3 times a year, as well as annual check-ups with the doctor, in order to identify conditions that may increase the risk of high blood pressure.