High Blood Pressure OR Hypertension : Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Complications

High blood pressure or hypertension is the pressure in the arteries, which are the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

Updated: July 24, 2020

High blood pressure  or hypertension is the pressure  in the arteries, which are the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. Your blood pressure will be high if you have narrow arteries and your heart pumps more blood.

We have two numbers in blood pressure reading. The top number called systolic blood pressure is the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts. The bottom number called diastolic pressure is the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes.

Normal blood pressure is below 120/80. Blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 is called "pre-hypertension," and a blood pressure of 140/90 or above is considered high while a systolic blood pressure of about 90 to 100 is considered low blood pressure.


Causes of High Blood Pressure:

Causes of high blood pressure, is divided into two categories:

Essential high blood pressure or primary high blood pressure:

No cause has been identified for primary high blood pressure. It develop gradually over many years.


Secondary high blood pressure :

Various conditions and medications can lead to secondary hypertension, including:

  •    Age factor and Family history
  •     Obstructive sleep
  •     Kidney problems
  •     Adrenal gland tumors
  •     Thyroid problems
  •     Certain defects in blood vessels you are born with (congenital)
  •     Certain medications, such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants
  •     Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines
  •     Alcohol abuse
  •     Smoking
  •     Obesity or overweight
  •     High salt intake
  •     High fat diet
  •     Mental stress
  •     Diabetes
  •     Pregnancy
  •     Lack of exercise, as well as having a sedentary lifestyle, raises the risk of  hypertension.


Symptoms of High Blood Pressure :

Most of the people with high blood pressure will not experience any symptoms until levels reach about 180/110 mmHg.

High blood pressure symptoms typically include:

  •    Headache - usually, this will last for several days.
  •    Nausea - a sensation of unease and discomfort in the stomach with an urge to vomit.
  •     Vomiting - less common than just nausea.
  •     Dizziness - Light headedness, unsteadiness, and vertigo.
  •     Blurred or double vision (diplopia).
  •     Epistaxis - nosebleeds.
  •     Palpitations - forceful beating of the heart.
  •     Dyspnea - breathlessness, shortness of breath.

Diagnosis of High Blood Pressure:

Your blood pressure will be measured by a sphygmomanometer at different times of the day for several readings.If your blood pressure is consistently over 140/90mmHg,then high blood pressure is confirmed.

Complications of High Blood Pressure:

If the hypertension is not treated or controlled the excessive pressure on the artery walls can lead to damage of the blood vessels  causing cardiovascular disease. Untreated hypertension can also affect the vital organs. The higher your blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled or untreated, the greater the chance of damage of vital organs.

Uncontrolled  and untreated high blood pressure can have complications like:

Heart attack or stroke:

High blood pressure can cause hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Due to a loss of blood supply, heart muscle dies leading to heart attack or stroke.

Heart failure :

Your heart muscle thickens to pump blood against the higher pressure in your vessels. Eventually, the thickened muscle may have a hard time pumping enough blood to meet your body's needs, which can lead to heart failure.

Kidney failure:

Hypertension  Weakens and narrow down the blood vessels in your kidneys. This will result your kidney to not function properly leading to kidney failure.

Hypertensive Retinopathy :

Untreated hypertension can lead to thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes, which can lead to vision loss. 

Metabolic Syndrome :

This is a group of disorder of the body's metabolism, including an increased waist circumference, low blood HDL levels (the good cholesterol) and high levels of glucose. These conditions make you more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Cognitive and memory problems:

Trouble with memory or understanding concepts is more common in people with high blood pressure.


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