Hypertension

What is it:

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the blood vessels as it circulates through the body. High blood pressure or hypertension is the pumping of blood through the blood vessels with higher than normal force. Blood pressure is denoted as two numbers. The first (systolic) number represents the pressure in blood vessels when the heart beats. The second (diastolic) number represents the pressure in the vessels when the heart rests between beats. The normal blood pressure is 120/80, the table below depicts the stages of Hypertension.

Blood Pressure Category

Systolic (upper #), mm Hg

Diastolic (lower #), mm Hg

Normal

less than 120

and

less than 80

Prehypertension

120 – 139

or

80 – 89

High Blood Pressure

(Hypertension) Stage 1

140 – 159

or

90 – 99

High Blood Pressure

(Hypertension) Stage 2

160 or higher

or

100 or higher

Hypertensive Crisis

(Emergency care needed)

Higher than 180

or

Higher than 110

Source: American Heart Association


Symptoms:

  • Hypertension is called the "silent killer" because it usually has no warning signs or symptoms, hence it is very important to get blood pressure checked regularly

  • In some people, Hypertension could give rise to early-morning headache, nosebleed, irregular heartbeats and buzzing in the ears

  • Symptoms of severe hypertension include tiredness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, anxiety, chest pain and muscle tremors.

Causes:

  • Age is a risk factor for Hypertension

  • Poor lifestyle choices such as eating too much salt (sodium), not eating enough potassium (from fruits and vegetables), being overweight, not getting enough exercise

  • Consuming too much alcohol and smoking

  • Chronic stress

  • Genetic factors

Complications:

  • Heart disease: Heart failure, which occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to other organs. Heart attack, which occurs when the blood supply to the heart is blocked and heart muscle cells die from lack of oxygen. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the greater the damage to the heart.

  • Stroke: High blood pressure can burst or block arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain causing stroke

How to manage:

  • Regularly check blood pressure to detect high BP as high blood pressure often has no symptoms.

  • Reduce stress through regular walk, yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques.

  • Eat a healthy diet consisting of lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, which provides nutrients such as potassium and fibre. Limit salt intake and intake of processed/ saturated foods.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can raise blood pressure

  • Be physically active. Physical activity can help lower blood pressure. Adults should engage in moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.

  • Quit smoking. Smoking injures blood vessels and speeds up deposition of plaque in arteries. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease.

  • Limit alcohol use. Drinking too much alcohol is associated with high blood pressure.

  • Prevent and manage other medical conditions such as diabetes. About 60% of people who have diabetes also have high blood pressure.