The heart pumps blood to various organs with a force, which exerts pressure on the walls of the arteries. Hence, blood pressure is defined as the pressure exerted by the blood flow upon the walls of the blood vessel and is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). 120/80 mmHg is considered as the normal reading for blood pressure, where 120 is the pressure when the heart beats to pump out blood (systolic pressure) and 80 is the pressure when the heart rests between beats (diastolic pressure). A person is said to have hypertension when the blood pressure readings are 140/90 mmHg or higher. Read about 10 myths about hypertension.
Hypertension or high blood pressure still remains an uncontrolled problem in India, mainly because the condition develops silently and remains undetected for a long time. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one in every three individuals above the age of 18 years has high blood pressure. Here are 10 ways hypertension or High BP affects your body.
Primary hypertension: High blood pressure that has no identifiable cause.
Secondary hypertension: High blood pressure resulting from an underlying condition like kidney disease, diabetes, blocking of arteries, irrational use of medicines like painkillers, supplements, thyroid problems, heavy alcohol intake and sleep disorders.
Malignant hypertension: A sudden, rapid increase in high blood pressure is called malignant hypertension.
Resistant hypertension: This type of hypertension is unaffected by a single group of medicines and lifestyle changes. Here are all your queries answered about hypertension answered.
Isolated systolic hypertension: In this type, the arteries become stiff and causes a rise in systolic blood pressure but the diastolic blood pressure remains normal.
Here's why you should not neglect borderline hypertension.
There are several known factors that increase the risk of hypertension. These include --
Age: On an average, people above 40 years of age have a higher risk of developing hypertension.
Family history: If you have a family member with high blood pressure, you’re also likely to suffer.
Stress: Several studies have linked stress with high blood pressure. Hormones released by the body under stress affect the blood vessels and blood flow, causing a temporary rise in BP.
High salt intake: Salt contains sodium that causes fluid retention in the body, leading to increased blood pressure. Read about how to reduce salt intake and control your BP.
Smoking: Smoking causes narrowing of the arteries, thereby increasing the pressure exerted by blood flowing through them. Here are 25 things that happen inside your body when you smoke.
Heavy alcohol intake: Heavy drinking generally has a known bad effect on crucial organs like liver, kidneys and the heart. It also affects the blood pressure. Are you aware of these side effects of alcohol?
Chronic diseases: While hypertension is a risk factor for chronic diseases like heart disease and kidney disease, chronic diseases can also lead to hypertension.
Hypertension mainly develops as you grow older. The primary cause of high blood pressure remains unknown in almost 90% of the cases. But there are several secondary causes of hypertension such as:
High blood pressure is a silent killer and does not have any symptoms as such. So then how does one suspect high BP? Here are a few signs that are closely associated with hypertension and are seen in quite a few people. If you have any of these signs, it is good signal for you to go to a doctor and get your BP checked.
Apart from the above signs, few people may also feel dizzy and experience body stiffness and loss of interest in daily activities.
But none of the mentioned symptoms individually confirm that a person is suffering from high blood pressure. You need to visit a health professional to confirm if you have high HP. Read more about symptoms of high blood pressure.
The only way to know whether you have high blood pressure is to get it measured. The physician will measure your blood pressure with an instrument called sphygmomanometer. The normal blood pressure reading is 120/80 mmHg.
The first number is the measure of pressure exerted on the walls of arteries when the heart contracts and pushes blood in the arteries. This is called systolic blood pressure. Normal systolic blood pressure is below 120 mmHg. Read about how your heartbeat affects your BP.
The second number is the diastolic pressure or the pressure exerted on the walls of the arteries when the heart is at rest between beats. The normal diastolic blood pressure is less than 80 mmHg.
Recently, new guidelines released by the U.S. revised the normal range of blood pressure to 150/90 for people above 60 years of age. Read more about the guideline - 150/90 is the new ‘normal BP’ for people over 60.
Hypertension can be treated with medicines and lifestyle changes.
Medication: Drugs used for treating hypertension are called anti-hypertensive drugs. Anti-hypertensive drugs are needed lifelong because hypertension can only be controlled and not cured. However, this is true only in case of essential hypertension or primary hypertension,’ says Dr Sanjeev Chaudhary, Associate Director & Unit Head, Cardiology, FMRI, Gurgaon. Here’s a detailed account on medicines for hypertension and their side-effects.
Lifestyle changes: Dr Sanjeev highlights that lifestyle changes should be tried first before taking medication in case of mild hypertension. These changes also apply if you want to prevent hypertension. Lifestyle changes include -
- Regular exercise
- Maintaining healthy weight
- Reducing salt intake
- Lowering fat intake
- Managing stress
Here are a few more diet tips for people with hypertension.
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a chronic condition in which the arterial blood pressure is elevated (normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg). Although antihypertensive medications are available to treat high blood pressure, they are usually associated with many side-effects.
Hence, hypertensive individuals prefer natural alternatives instead of conventional medications as they are not only effective but are comparatively safe. Some of the widely used alternative measures for lowering high blood pressure are –
Dietary changes: The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet includes eating foods with potential antihypertensive activity like fresh fruits and vegetables (amla juice, beetroot garlic and radish), whole grains, milk, etc and lowering the intake of salt and processed foods. Read about 10 fruits and vegetables that are good for people with hypertension.
Exercise: Regular physical activity of 30 to 60 minutes lowers your blood pressure level by 4 – 9 mm Hg. Read about top 8 reasons to start exercising today.
Natural herbs: The commonly used natural remedies with antihypertensive property include garlic, custard apple, celery, ajwain, carrot, flaxseeds (alsi), tomato, drumsticks, basil (tulsi), pomegranate, sesame (til), cocoa bean, wheat bran, black plum and ginger. Read about herbal remedies for hypertension
Stress management: Stress is one of the key factors responsible for hypertension. The various relaxation techniques used to relieve stress and lower high blood pressure are controlled breathing, reiki, acupuncture and meditation.
Probiotics: Probiotics, which contain good bacteria, were known to promote a healthy digestive system in addition to improving immunity. But research studies have shown that these ‘helpful bacteria’ exert antihypertensive potential by improving lipid profile, function of the enzyme renin (responsible for normal blood pressure) and insulin resistance in the body.
Simply put, uncontrolled high blood pressure (HBP) can injure or kill you. Also known as ‘the silent killer’, high BP has no symptoms, making it very difficult to gauge how severely the condition is damaging your arteries, heart and other organs. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to:
Read to known about dangers and complications of high and uncontrolled blood pressure.
Yoga for hypertension
Sitting and supine positions that place the spine in a horizontal position, and exert less strain on the heart can be therapeutic and help you to control your blood pressure. Here are some recommended yoga asanas for people suffering from hypertension --
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The content has been verified by Dr Sanjeev Chaudhary, Associate Director & Unit Head, Cardiology, FMRI, Gurgaon.