High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
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High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) News
What is High blood pressure?
High blood pressure (AKA Hypertension) is a common disease that occurs when blood flows through your arteries at a higher than normal pressure. Your blood pressure is composed of two numbers, systolic and diastolic. Systolic pressure is the pressure when your heart ventricles pump blood out of your heart. Diastolic pressure is the pressure between heartbeats when the heart is filling with blood.
Healthy blood pressure for typical adults should be less than 120/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). The top number is your systolic pressure and the bottom number is your diastolic pressure.
With the rise in telehealth, many people are seeking out an online doctor consultation to learn more about hypertension.
Risk Factors Contributing to High Blood Pressure
There are many factors that may raise the risk of high blood pressure. Some of these risk factors can be changed, like unhealthy lifestyle habits. Other risk factors are out of your control and can not be changed like age, family history, genetics, race and ethnicity, and gender.
As we age our blood pressure tends to increase naturally, our blood vessels tend to thicken and stiffen over time. These changes increase the risk of high blood pressure.
Family History and Genetics
High blood pressure has the tendency to run in the family. There has been numerous genetic studies that have helped to increase our understanding of the body systems involved in high blood pressure. There are many specific genes that are linked to an increased risk of developing high blood pressure.
There are many lifestyle habits that can increase your risk of high blood pressure and these include:
- Eating unhealthy foods too often, including those with too much sodium and not enough potassium or too many calories, fat, and sugar.
- Drinking too much caffeine or alcohol
- Not getting enough physical activity
- The use of illegal drugs like cocaine, bath salts, and methamphetamine
- Not getting enough good quality sleep
Some prescribed medications and over-the-counter medications can affect your bodies ability to control your blood pressure. Medications that could cause high blood pressure are antidepressants, decongestants, hormonal birth control pills, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin or ibuprofen.
There are certain medical conditions that change the way your body controls fluids, sodium, and hormones in your blood, causing high blood pressure, these include:
- Certain tumors
- Chronic kidney disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Overweight and obesity
- Sleep apnea
- Thyroid problems
Race or ethnicity
African-Americans tend to develop high blood pressure more often the people of other racial backgrounds in the U.S. High blood pressure tends to also be more severe in African-Americans and some medications are less effective in treating high blood pressure in African-Americans.
Until the age of 64, men are more likely than women to develop high blood pressure. At age 65 and older, women are more likely to get high blood pressure.
Signs, Symptoms, and Complications of High Blood Pressure
It is critical to have your blood pressure checked regularly and to know your numbers because high blood pressure does not tend to cause symptoms until it has caused serious problems. Because blood pressure is largely symptomless it is often referred to as the “silent killer”. Undiagnosed and uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to serious health issues such as:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Eye damage
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Peripheral artery disease
- Carotid artery disease
- Vascular dementia
How to Screen For & Prevent High Blood Pressure
Everyone 3 years of age and older should have their blood pressure checked regularly by a healthcare provider, at least once a year. A blood pressure test is quick and painless and is usually performed in a doctor's office or clinic but can also be done at some pharmacies or with a home blood pressure cuff. To prepare for your blood pressure test follow these simple steps:
- Do not exercise, drink coffee, or smoke cigarettes for at least 30 minutes before the test
- Go to the bathroom before the test
- Sit in a chair and relax for at least 5 minutes before the test
- Make sure your feet are flat on the floor
- Do not talk while you are relaxing or during the test
- Uncover your arm for the test
- Rest your arm on a table so it is supported at the level of your heart for the test.
Leading a heart-healthy lifestyle can help to prevent high blood pressure, here are some ways to start living a healthy lifestyle:
- Choose heart-healthy foods that are lower in sodium and rich in potassium. Fruits and vegetable are high in potassium
- Avoid or limit alcohol consumption
- Get regular physical activity
- Aim for a healthy weight
- Quit smoking
- Manage stress
- Get good quality sleep
Diagnosis of High Blood Pressure
A doctor is able to diagnose you with high blood pressure based on your medical history and if you regularly get your blood pressure checked and your blood pressure readings become consistently higher. For most healthy adults your blood pressure should be less than 120/80 mm Hg. You may be diagnosed with high blood pressure if your systolic reading is consistently 140 mm Hg or higher or your diastolic reading is consistently 90 mm Hg or higher. If you have other risk factors for heart disease your doctor may determine you have high blood pressure if your systolic readings are between 130-139 or diastolic readings are between 80-89 consistently.
Treatment for High Blood Pressure
Typically, once diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor will customize a treatment plan for you that may include heart-healthy lifestyle changes alone or with medication. Your doctor may utilize a risk calculator to help estimate your risk of complications to determine the right treatment for you.
Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Changing old habits can be difficult. To help make this change a little easier, try making one change at a time and then add another as you feel more comfortable.
- Choose heart-healthy foods
- Avoid or limit alcohol
- Get regular physical activity
- Aim for a healthy weight if you are an adult affected with high blood pressure and are overweight or obese, losing 5-10% of your initial weight can significantly improve your health.
- Quit smoking
- Manage stress
- Get enough good-quality sleep-The recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7-9 hours of sleep a day.
If healthy lifestyle changes alone are not helping to control your blood pressure your doctor may prescribe a blood pressure medication. It is important to keep up your healthy lifestyle changes while taking the medication as it could help control and lower your blood pressure. Potential high blood pressure medications include:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors-work to keep your blood vessels from narrowing as much
- Side effects include: skin rash, loss of taste, chronic dry/hacking cough, kidney damage
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)-work to keep your blood vessels from narrowing
- Side effects include: occasional dizziness
- Calcium channel blockers-work to prevent calcium from entering the muscle cells of your heart and blood vessels allowing your blood vessels to relax
- Possible side effects include: palpitations, swollen ankles, constipation, headache, and dizziness
- Diuretics-work to remove extra water and salt from your body which reduces the amount of fluid in your blood. Diuretics are often used in combination with other high blood pressure medications.
- Possible side effects include: weakness, leg cramps, gout, impotence
- Beta-blockers-work to help your heart beat slower and with less force causing your heart to pump less blood through your vessels.
- Possible side effects include: insomnia, cold hand and feet, tiredness, depression, slow heartbeat, symptoms of asthma, impotence
Where can I find treatment for high blood pressure online?
- Just Answer
- RP Health
- LiveHealth Online
Maintaining healthy blood pressure is critical to living a healthy happy life. Thankfully high blood pressure is an extremely preventable disease, by making healthy choices and managing your other health conditions you will significantly reduce your risk of high blood pressure. High blood pressure is also very treatable with lifestyle changes or medication. With the ever-growing industry of telemedicine you are even able to receive treatment for your high blood pressure without ever having to leave the comfort of your own home. Check out our list of the top online doctors that can help to diagnose and treat your high blood pressure.