Tuesday, 11 March 2014


Hypertension is the term used to describe high blood pressure. It is a condition that occurs when the pressure inside your large arteries is too high.

Blood pressure readings are usually given as two numbers -- for example, 120 over 80 (written as 120/80 mmHg). One or both of these numbers can be too high.

The top number is called the systolic blood pressure, and the bottom number is called the diastolic blood pressure.

  • Normal blood pressure is when your blood pressure is lower than 120/80 mmHg most of the time.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) is when your blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or above most of the time and the longer your blood pressure stays at this level, the greater the risk of heart problem.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

You have a higher risk of high blood pressure if you:

  • Are obese
  • Are often stressed or anxious
  • Drink alcohol
  • Eat too much salt in your diet
  • Have a family history of high blood pressure
  • Have diabetes
  • Smoke

Most of the time, no cause of high blood pressure is found. This is called Essential Hypertension.

High blood pressure that is caused by another medical condition or medication is called secondary hypertension. Secondary hypertension may be due to:
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Disorders of the adrenal gland
  • Pregnancy (like preeclampsia)
  • Medications such as birth control pills, diet pills, some cold medications, and migraine medications
  • Narrowed artery that supplies blood to the kidney (renal artery stenosis)
  • Hyperparathyroidism

You are more likely to be told your blood pressure is too high as you get older. This is because your blood vessels become stiffer as you age. When that happens, your blood pressure goes up. High blood pressure increases your chance of having a stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, and early death.


Most of the time, there are no symptoms. For most patients, high blood pressure is found when they visit their health care provider or have it checked elsewhere.

Because there are no symptoms, people can develop heart disease and kidney problems without knowing they have high blood pressure.

There are warning signs to watch out for though:

  • Headaches- the pain is often described as dull ache and pressure
  • Insomnia- Sleeplessness
  • Dizziness and dizzy spells- that last anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of days can be a result of hypertension.
  • Blurred Vision
  • Shortness of breath


Asides from measuring your blood pressure severally before diagnosing you as hypertensive;

Other tests may be done to look for:

  • High cholesterol levels
  • Heart disease, such as an echocardiogram or electrocardiogram
  • Kidney disease, such as a basic metabolic panel and urinalysis or ultrasound of the kidneys

The goal of treatment is to reduce blood pressure so that you have a lower risk of complications. There are many different medicines that can be used to treat high blood pressure and your doctor will decide based on the type of hypertension and symptoms present. It is very important that you take the medications prescribed to you.

Lifestyle Modification is also very important for lowering blood pressure and will be recommended by the doctor. Some of these modifications include:

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet, including potassium (eg: bananas, apricots,etc) and fiber, and drink plenty of water.
  • Exercise regularly -- at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day.
  • Quit Smoking
  • Quit Alcohol.
  • Limit the amount of sodium (salt) you eat -- aim for less than 1,500 mg per day.
  • Reduce stress -- try to avoid things that cause you stress.
  • Stay at a healthy body weight -- find a weight-loss program to help you, if you need it.
  • Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products while reducing total and saturated fat intake (e.g. fried foods and fatty beef).
  • Check your blood pressure at least once a month.
  • See your doctor for regular screening, not just when you are sick
  • Control your cholesterol intake (e.g. reducing the consumption of foods like butter, cheese, fast foods, etc)