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.
Hypertension can lead to damaged organs, as well as several illnesses, such as renal failure (kidney failure), aneurysm, heart failure, stroke, or heart attack.
The normal level for blood pressure is below 120/80, where 120 represents the systolic measurement (peak pressure in the arteries) and 80 represents 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.
What causes hypertension?
Though the exact causes of hypertension are usually unknown, there are several factors that have been highly associated with the condition. These include:
- · Smoking
- · Obesity or being overweight
- · 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
Symptoms of Hypertension
There is no guarantee that a person with hypertension will present any symptoms of the condition. About 33% of people actually do not know that they have high blood pressure, and this ignorance can last for years. For this reason, it is advisable to undergo periodic blood pressure screenings even when no symptoms are present.
Extremely high blood pressure may lead to some symptoms, however, and these include:
- · Severe headaches
- · Fatigue or confusion
- · Dizziness
- · Nausea
- · Problems with vision
- · Chest pains
- · Breathing problems
- · Irregular heartbeat
- · Blood in the urine
How is hypertension diagnosed?