High blood pressure is a medical condition that is brought about by various factors. Many adults are diagnosed with the condition but some are not aware of having it.
The blood pressure is the measurement on how hard the blood drives against the arterial walls. If the pressure is too high, this places excess force on the arterial walls and the heart. The blood pressure reading is comprised of 2 numbers:
- Systolic – pressure as the heart beats
- Diastolic – pressure while the heart is in a resting phase
An individual has high blood pressure if both readings show 140/90 mmHg or higher, usually on separate occasions.
What are the risk factors and complications?
There are various factors that puts one at higher risk for high blood pressure. These might be associated to lifestyle or hereditary such as:
- Being overweight
- Lack of exercise
- Family history of high blood pressure
- Diet high in salt
- Excessive consumption of caffeine and alcohol
- Lack of vegetables and fresh fruit in the diet
- Having Caribbean or African descent
It is important to note that high blood pressure might also be triggered by a medical conditions or medications such as the following:
- Kidney disease
- Oral contraceptives
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Recreational drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine
How is it diagnosed
The blood pressure is measured using a sphygmomanometer that can be either manual or digital. A reading must be taken in a seated position with the arm rested on a table or desk and after resting for at least 5 minutes.
If the blood pressure reading is 120/80, it is considered normal. High blood pressure is likely if the reading is around 140 systolic. If the reading is high, it is recommended to get another reading on a separate occasion since it might be affected by various factors such as stress and anxiety.
Management of high blood pressure
When it comes to moderate cases of high blood pressure, the treatment involves lifestyle changes such as cutting down weight, reducing the intake of caffeine and alcohol, cessation of smoking and regular exercise.
In severe cases, medications are needed. The doctor might prescribe more than one type of medication to control the blood pressure. The commonly used medications that lower the blood pressure include:
- Calcium channel blockers – these works by preventing calcium from entering the heart muscle and blood vessels that widens the arteries
- ACE inhibitors – lower the blood pressure by relaxing the arterial walls
- Alpha blockers – work by relaxing the blood vessel walls to allow the blood to flow easier
- Beta blockers – works by slowing down the heartbeat with less force to lower down the blood pressure