High Blood Pressure – Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention

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With an ever growing desire to look after our bodies and health due to all of the media advertisements and online space encouraging us to do so, some people among us still lack motivation. Even with all of the nutritious foods, motivation and balanced lifestyle choices on the market, there is still an exponential increase in the worldwide population developing heart conditions due to poor lifestyle and diet choices. 

An unhealthy lifestyle and bad body habits can cause serious heart issues and further medical complications, such as high blood pressure. This is a worldwide issue and is forever growing due to lack of symptoms which results in delayed treatment. 

Having high blood pressure is among other heart conditions as a primary or contributing cause of death in America, of over 500,000 people per year.

Knowing the symptoms, the precautions and treatment methods to take is key for resolving high blood pressure and today, we will share all of the necessary information you need to inhibit risk of developing high blood pressure. Let’s being with talking about what exactly high blood pressure is:

What is High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, is when the pressure of your blood vessels are at an abnormally high level. This is typically caused by bad lifestyle habits such as drinking alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise and overeating. 

If you have high blood pressure, it means your heart is having to overwork to pump blood around the body. If high blood pressure is left untreated, it can cause severe damage to the body and in some cases, can result in fatality.

The measurement of blood pressure is read by seeing how much blood is passing through the body and the amount of resistance there is when the blood meets the heart.

Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers. Systolic pressure shows the force at which your heart pumps blood around the body, which is signified by the higher number on the reading. Then there is dialostic pressure, signified by the lower number on the reading, which shows the resistance of the blood flow in the vessels. 

A reading of blood pressure is measured in milligrams of mercury, medically written and noted as mmHg. If the reading exceeds 140/90mmHg this signifies that your blood pressure is high. If the reading is between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg then you are at risk of developing a high blood pressure. It can be difficult for a person to realise they have high blood pressure, which is why it is important to maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle to lower the risk. 

Everyone’s blood pressure reading is different and varies depending on a variety of lifestyle and body factors. However, an ideal blood pressure reading should be around 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.

Video : Understand how blood pressure work

Here is a quick video that ill help you understand blood pressure mechanism :

If high blood pressure is left untreated, it can cause serious damage to the brain, heart, eyes and kidneys. Symptoms are hard to recognize, but if you notice any it is important to act immediately to get treatment. Here are the symptoms to look out for:

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

Around a third of the population have high blood pressure and many do not realise it. Early observation of high blood pressure is important. To check regularly, you can get blood pressure readings from your doctor or with an at home device. 

Unlike most other serious health conditions, high blood pressure very rarely shows noticeable symptoms. However, these are the symptoms to look for:

  • Blurred vision
  • Nose bleeds
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Blood in the urine
  • Flushing

If you notice any of the above symptoms, it is vital to seek medical attention immediately. As the symptoms are rare and sometimes very delayed, it is recommended to get your blood pressure check regularly. 

If you show a reading of between 120/80mmHg to 140/90mmHg and are at risk of developing high blood pressure sooner than those with a lower reading, then it is best to check in even more frequently.

High blood pressure can be caused by a variety of lifestyle, medical and genetic factors. Whilst some causes are unpreventable, it is important to be aware of them all to be aware if you are at risk:

High Blood Pressure: Causes and Risk Factors

High blood pressure can be due to one or more causes. For the most part, it is caused by bad lifestyle choices such as excessive alcohol or smoking, lack of exercise and unhealthy diet habits. Sometimes it can be caused by existing medical conditions or in some cases, due to genetics. There are two types of hypertension which are not to get confused and both have different causes, which are as follow:

Primary hypertension

Primary hypertension tends to develop slowly over time with no definitive cause. It is also known as essential hypertension as usually does not have a secondary cause or explanation. 

There are a number of factors which are believed to cause the slow development of high blood pressure:

Genes

Some people have hypertension throughout their family history and therefore in their genes. Sometimes it is caused by mutation of the genes or due to genetic abnormalities. If hypertension is genetic in your family, it is important to take the necessary precautions to reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure.

Environment

Physical and lifestyle changes are one of the most prominent causes of hypertension. If you have a poor diet or lack exercise, this can lead to weight problems and take a toll on your health. Being overweight can heighten the risk of high blood pressure. 

Physical changes

If you’re body changes and medical conditions develop, some may be the cause of hypertension. Many health conditions can make your body fluids, salt and sugar levels fluctuate which can encourage a spike in blood pressure. For example, narrow arteries cause resistance and the narrower your arteries are the more the blood pressure will increase as it has a smaller space to pass through. This can be caused by aging and a buildup of fatty acids and plaque. 

Secondary hypertension

This type of hypertension tends to develop more quickly and unexpectedly than primary hypertension. The causes are typically due to lifestyle habits or medical conditions, such as:

  • Thyroid problems
  • Heart defects
  • Medications
  • Use of illegal drugs
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Kidney disease
  • Sleep apnoea

Now you understand more about the symptoms, causes and risk factors of high blood pressure, let’s talk about how you can diagnose it. Remember, early diagnosis will reduce the severity and impact it can have on your body:

Diagnosis of High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is typically checked by your doctor using a sphygmomanometer. A blood pressure reading is part of a routine visit, however if you do not receive one during your visit you can request one. Regular checks of your blood pressure is necessary to ensure you are not at risk, seeing as symptoms are rare and you may be unaware of it.

If your blood pressure shows to be high or alarming, your doctor will ask you to come back every few days or weeks to keep track of it. Sometimes your blood pressure can increase due to the environment you’re in. Being in a doctor’s office or stressful activities you have partaken in that day may have caused your blood pressure to rise for a short period of time.

Therefore, these regular check ins allow the doctor to see if the heightened blood pressure is frequent and to rule out any underlying conditions.

It is important to know that blood pressure can fluctuate a lot throughout the course of a day, so these regular tests allow your doctor to identify any issues.

If your blood pressure reading remains high after a few appointments, following tests can be done such as urine tests, cholesterol readings, tests to check your heart’s electrical activity and ultrasounds of heart or kidneys.

These tests will help your doctor investigate what is causing the high blood pressure and diagnose you with the correct condition to provide you with the right treatment. Early treatments equals lack of damage:

Treatment / How To Prevent High Blood Pressure

Treatments will be advised by your doctor once you are diagnosed with high blood pressure and have confirmed the cause. The treatment that can be offered will depend on the cause, your current lifestyle and medication routine. Everyone’s blood pressure causes and lifestyle will be different, so treatment will be specific to each and every person.

Mostly, lifestyle changes will be discussed to help improve your blood pressure and ensure it does not spike again in the future. Treatments must be taken seriously in order to lower your blood pressure and inhibit any future damage.

Lifestyle changes

Most treatments begin with lifestyle changes, which will be provided by your doctor. The lifestyle changes will differ from patient to patient. Lifestyle changes typically consist of a healthy balanced diet, increased physical activity and managing stress. 

A diet that can encourage a decline in blood pressure consists of heart-healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. These are nutritionally balanced foods that provide the body with healthy fats, sugar, fiber and protein. 


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Along with this, physical activity will need to be increased. For those who are overweight, one of the most common causes of primary hypertension, an exercise plan will be assigned. Around 30 minutes of physical activity everyday is enough to get more active and healthy. 

Exercise can also reduce stress levels, which is another cause of hypertension. Lowering and managing stress levels is important for lowering blood pressure. With physical exercise, other stress management activities include meditation, massages, deep breathing, yoga and tai chi. 

As much as diets, exercise and stress management can reduce blood pressure, so can healthier lifestyle choices such as stopping smoking and limiting alcohol consumption. Chemicals in tobacco can harden the blood vessel wall which limits the blood flow and causes a spike in blood pressure. Cleaner, healthier lifestyle choices are key for reducing your blood pressure and the risk.

If lifestyle changes are not enough to treat the blood pressure, medication can be provided from your doctor. 

With those who develop high blood pressure due to primary hypertension causes, lifestyle changes help treat the issue most of the time. However, for those who do not recover from a change in lifestyle, along with those who have secondary hypertension, will most likely be offered medication to speed the process of decreasing your blood pressure. 

Some people will be provided with life long medication if their condition persists due to underlying medical conditions.

Medicines

If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure and lifestyle changes are not the correct treatment or do not work work for you, your doctor may prescribe you one or more of the following treatments:

  • ACE Inhibitors: these allow your blood vessels to relax and open up, so that blood flow is easier. 
  • Calcium channel blockers: it works by reducing the amount the rate at which calcium flows in the heart. When calcium flow is lower, your heart rate reduces and decreases blood pressure
  • Diuretics: commonly known as water pills, these help your body flush away excess water and salt through urination. Less fluid in your blood vessels helps reduce blood pressure.
  • Alpha blockers: they reduce the blood pressure by helping blood vessels dilate. 
  • Beta blockers: these work to reduce the effect of epinephrine, a hormone that boosts adrenaline. Reducing this helps reduce blood pressure as your heart will beat at a slower pace with less force.

As well as medications, there are also a few supplements that may benefit you and help you to lose weight. Weight loss is necessary if the patient is overweight in order to reduce blood pressure.

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Lack of treatment or a delayed diagnosis can cause consequences later on in life. It is important to diagnose and treat high blood pressure to inhibit future damage to your body and organs:

Consequences of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure symptoms are hard to notice, hence why many people have a delayed response to being diagnosed and starting essential treatment. If left untreated or if the blood pressure increases to an alarming rate with late treatment, some consequences can occur later on in life such as:

Issues during pregnancy

Women with hypertension usually deliver healthy babies, whether you are aware of having it or not. Damage can occur however if the blood pressure is not monitored often enough during pregnancy and becomes dangerously high.

Complications can occur if a pregnant woman lacks proper treatment whilst having high blood pressure such as decreased kidney function. This can cause the baby to be born underweight or prematurely. 

In the most serious cases, pregnant women can develop preeclampsia which causes seizures. This can lead to serious consequences for the baby such as dangerously low birth weight and stillbirths. If preeclampsia develops during pregnancy, the right thing to do is to deliver the baby as soon as possible to inhibit any more complications.

Some womens blood pressure increases due to pregnancy and returns back to normal after childbirth. However, developing hypertension during pregnancy can increase the risk of getting it later on in life.

Damaged arteries

High blood pressure can cause your arteries to narrow, become thicker and harder which causes obstacles for the blood flow. This does not only cause an increased blood pressure but can later cause blockages which can cause strokes and heart attacks. 

Damaged heart

Having a high blood pressure, especially for a long period of time, can result in a damaged heart. Hypertension makes your heart work overtime and forces your heart to pump more frequently, which can cause an enlarged heart. This can later lead to heart failure, cardiac arrest, heart attacks or arrhythmias. 

Damaged brain

Your brain is an organ that relies heavily on a healthy heart due to its oxygen rich blood. High blood pressure can restrict the amount of blood your brain receives. Uncontrolled and untreated hypertension can cause memory loss, strokes, transient ischemic attacks and sometimes decline your natural cognitive functions such as speaking, learning and speaking. 

It is vital to act when you notice symptoms, get a regular blood pressure reading and recieve the right treatment if you are diagnosed with hypertension. In order to prevent high blood pressure and/or consequences, sticking to a healthy diet, regular exercise and managing stress can prevent risk and damage. 

If you having lingering questions or concerns, some of these frequently asked questions may provide you with the answer you are looking for:

FAQ

Can anxiety cause high blood pressure?

Anxiety can cause a temporary spike in blood pressure, but cannot lead to long term hypertension. Anxiety releases stress hormones into the body and due to stress being a cause of hypertension, it can have some effect. A study found that those with intense and long term anxiety are at higher risk of high blood pressure than those with mild and sporadic anxiety.

Why do I suddenly have high blood pressure?

Blood pressure that occurs suddenly and for a short period of time is medically referred to as sudden blood high pressure. It can be caused by caffeine, stressful periods or certain medications. Usually it is nothing to worry about nor can it be harmful, but it is important to check in regularly to ensure the reading decreases back to a normal level.

What foods can cause high blood pressure?

Foods that can cause an increase in blood pressure are typically those high in salt and fat or heavily processed foods. This includes frozen pizzas, deli meats, sugar, pickles, canned soups, packaged foods, sandwiches, alcohol and dairy products. 

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans released a statement to say that those with a high sodium intake are at high risk of high blood pressure. Sodium foods are usually those that are packaged, frozen or high in salt. It is advised to avoid them if you are already at risk or wish to reduce the risk of hypertension as much as possible.

How can I lower my blood pressure in minutes?

Blood pressure fluctuates in everyone throughout the day. To lower it within minutes is not possible. However, it is possible to do over an hour or so with the right tactics, but it will not ensure long lasting results. You can lower your blood pressure quickly with a walk, meditation and eating well. To avoid increasing your blood pressure, these tactics should be continued.

Can lack of sleep cause high blood pressure?

Not getting enough sleep can cause your blood pressure to increase overtime. This is due to the body not being able to regulate stress hormones properly. Stress can cause a spike in blood pressure and lack of sleep usually causes stress on the mind and the body.

Can walking lower blood pressure?

If you have high blood pressure, slow walks can help lower it. A study showed that a brisk 40 minute walk everyday can lower blood pressure. A brisk walk is generally around 3 to 4 miles per hour and shows better results in those overweight or those who already have hypertension.

Does lemon lower blood pressure?

Lemon seems to be the most popular food for lowering blood pressure. An investigative study proved that lemon has a high vitamin C content which acts as an antioxidant which helps remove free radicals from the body. Due to this, the blood vessels become soft and flexible which helps blood flow more freely. 

What time of day is your blood pressure highest?

Blood pressure is typically at its peak during the middle of the day due to it being the most active part of the day. Around lunchtime is where your blood pressure may be highest due to bodily activity, movement and food consumption. During the late afternoon and evening, when your body is resting more, blood pressure will start to decrease. During sleep blood pressure lowers more and starts to increase a couple of hours before waking up.

With all of the information you may need to learn about high blood pressure, the symptoms, risk, diagnosis and treatment methods, you may wish to hear our thoughts:

Conclusion

High blood pressure is a concern that can develop in anyone and to lower the risk, it is important to partake in a healthy balanced diet, get regular exercise, have a healthy lifestyle and manage stress. All of these tactics can also protect your body from other health conditions. 

Hypertension is hard to notice and symptoms are rare, so it is important to check in regularly with your doctor to get readings to inhibit any issues. High blood pressure is a condition to treat with caution and catching it early is key in order to prevent any harmful consequences. 

For those at high risk – due to genetics or lifestyle choices – it is advised to take necessary precautions to decrease your chance of a dangerous blood pressure. If you do feel you are at risk, speak to your doctor to get professional medical advice and regular blood pressure readings.

If you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to ask us. 

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