Elevated blood pressure, often referred to as “hypertension”, is a medical condition in which the blood vessels carrying blood to the heart become swollen or enlarged, often affecting the brain, heart and/or kidneys. The condition is a little more common among African-American men. Hypertension is characterized by a persistent high blood pressure that usually worsens when confronted with stress, whether emotional or physical. The condition has many causes. However, some of the most common triggers include aging, chronic liver disease, diabetes mellitus, and obesity. People who smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol are also at greater risk of developing hypertension.
Most people who have high blood pressure do not experience any symptoms. However, some symptoms may be present and they should be investigated. Symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and nausea may be present but are not always necessary to document the diagnosis of hypertension. In addition, some of the more common symptoms of hypertension are also related to other diseases and conditions. If these symptoms persist for longer than two weeks, they should be evaluated for possible medical treatment.
Although elevated blood pressure can result in serious complications, it can also be very common and controllable. Most people with high blood pressure will not experience any of the more serious complications that cardiovascular disease can lead to. Those who do experience complications are at increased risk for developing kidney failure, stroke, kidney cancer and heart disease. Hypertension symptoms can often be self-limiting and require no medical treatment. However, if left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to severe complications and may require immediate medical attention.
There are many different classifications of high blood pressure: normal, elevated, or high. The elevated or high blood pressure range is divided by using a systole measurement, which monitors the force of blood pushing against the wall of the vein. Systole measurements are usually taken at rest, while resting. The readings on the monitor will decrease as blood flows through the body. When an elevated reading is taken and the systole is not significantly lower than the normal range, this can be an indication that further treatment is required.
High blood pressures often begin in the setting of aging. Protruding arteries that become larger over time weaken the walls of the veins, which allows blood to flow faster through the body. As a result, pressure builds up against the walls of the vessels. This can eventually lead to the development of high blood pressure. While this process may not occur overnight, once it occurs the effects can last for years.
One of the possible causes of high blood pressure occurs when the walls of the heart become thickened due to buildup of fat within the heart. The buildup of fat can reduce the flow of blood through the arteries, decreasing blood flow and causing blood pressure to rise. This can make the heart work harder, which increases the risk for heart attack and stroke. As the walls of the heart gradually narrow, the ability of the heart to pump blood becomes smaller. This can eventually lead to heart failure, heart attack, depending upon how long it takes for the arteries to heal and return to their normal functions.
Damage to the arteries that causes high blood pressure can also result from poor diet and improper exercise. Eating too much fast food, drinking alcohol, and smoking have all been shown to significantly increase blood pressures. Exercise can dramatically reduce blood pressure, as long as it is done properly. For those with existing heart failure, regular exercise can drastically improve health and prevent heart failure.
Sleep apnea is a common secondary hypertension problem that can cause further hypertension. This condition often occurs when a person has a hard time getting quality sleep during the night. Because the body is struggling to rest, there is a constant struggle for oxygen, which can increase stress levels and increase high blood pressure. It is essential that individuals suffering from sleep apnea learn to sleep on their side.