According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year. The heart is a muscular organ that supplies oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body. Circulation of blood is very important as it carries nutrition to the tissues and waste products away from the body. The heart has two sides - right and left. Each side has its own atrium and ventricles.
Blood circulates via heart to all parts of the body with the help of blood vessels. Heart pumps the blood to different parts of the body. When the blood flows in the blood vessels it exerts a certain pressure on the walls of the vessels, it is referred as blood pressure, but when the heart needs to work extra efficiently to push the blood through vessels then this pressure increases and then it is called high blood pressure or hypertension.
Causes of hypertension:
There are many risk factors that can lead to this condition:
• Obesity • Aging • Diabetes • Sedentary lifestyle • High intake of salt • Stress • High levels of alcohol consumption • Genetic tendency • Birth control pills and other medications
Symptoms of hypertension:
Although it is a symptomless disease, still the patients with blood pressure above 150/90 mm Hg may feel some rare symptoms like headache, nausea and vomiting. The only way to know whether you have high blood pressure is to measure it.
Adverse effects of Hypertension:
Hypertension is often termed as a silent killer as it can damage your body parts for years together undetected and you may not even feel any symptoms. If remains untreated then it can lead to serious life threatening conditions such as heart attacks.
The hazardous effects of hypertension are discussed below which have serious implications on the individual’s heart, brain and arteries. Hypertension can cause various heart diseases such as:
Left ventricular hypertrophy – The left ventricle of the heart becomes thick and starts to expand because of the extra force exerted by the heart to pump the blood throughout the body. This increases chances of cardiac arrest and may result in heart failure.
Heart failure: The continuous pressures on the heart muscles make them weak and this hampers their efficiency resulting in improper pumping of blood throughout the body
Aneurysm: It is a condition that occurs when arteries become weakened and a bulge is formed. This generally happens in the aorta and if it gets ruptured, it can cause severe internal bleeding
Arteriosclerosis: This happens when there is formation of plaque-like structure in arteries, obstructing the blood flow to the heart and other body parts. Thickening of arteries and deposition of fats in the arteries block the passage of blood flow
Stroke: It is a condition that occurs when a brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients because of weakening or bursting of brain’s blood vessels. In some cases, there a blood clot forms in the brain hampering blood flow and causing a stroke. Dementia and problem in thinking, learning and speech are the associated symptoms Kidney problems: Chronic hypertension has a deleterious effect on the kidneys as the functioning of arteries leading to kidneys gets affected. This results in inefficient working of the kidneys to the extent of there being need for kidney transplantation.
To keep your blood pressure in control you can adopt various healthy lifestyle options and can lower your risk of heart diseases and stroke. A healthy lifestyle may include:
• Smoking cessation • Limiting the alcohol intake • Getting good amount of physical activity • Maintaining a healthy weight • Eating a healthy and nutritious diet etc.
Common Blood pressure medicines:
Some most common blood pressure medicines are as follows:
• Enapril • Losar • Ciplar LA • Calaptin • Cardivas • Amlopres, etc.
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Myths and facts:
Myth: if my blood pressure is high, I may be able to feel it
Fact: No, not necessarily and that is why high blood pressure is called a silent killer because there are usually no symptoms associated with High BP. The only way to know is to get yourself checked.
Myth: the only way to control BP is through medications
Fact: no, as some lifestyle options like healthy eating and regular exercise can keep the blood pressure in the healthy range.
Doctors diagnose high blood pressure through their BP measuring device, sphygmomanometer and ascertain the presence of hypertension problem only after 4-5 readings. The doctor may also take some blood, urine tests and ECG to check any other ailment due to BP.
High blood pressure can be treated by implementing a few changes in lifestyle or by taking high blood pressure medications. The various medications for the treatment of various heart diseases and high blood pressure are as follows –
• Calcium channel drugs such as Nifedipine and Amlodipine • Angiotensin II receptors like Lovastatin and Atorvastatin • ACE inhibitors like Benazepril and Quinapril • Diuretics • Hypolipidemic drugs • Renin inhibitors • Combination drugs etc.
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Steps to improve life with BP:
There are a number of steps which should be taken by people with high blood pressure to control their blood pressure levels. Keep a check on your weight; if overweight then there is an urgent need to lose weight. One will also have to quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake. Regular work out, meditation and yoga will help you to keep yourself stress free and prevent weight gain. Eat green, fresh vegetables and fruits and follow a low fat diet. Minimizing the intake of salt can really keep your blood levels in check. Consume beet root, fish and garlic as they relax the blood vessels and aid smooth blood flow. Under severe conditions, these changes alone can’t reduce the high blood pressure levels, so have your physician prescribe some antihypertensive drugs to bring down the levels.
Important things to know:
Hypertension is not a life threatening problem until you keep the Blood pressure in control. So, involve in a good and healthy lifestyle to keep your hypertension in your control and live life the fullest.