Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. Blood pressure is written as two numbers, such as 130/80 mm Hg. The top number (systolic), is the pressure when the heart beats while the bottom number (diastolic), is the pressure when the heart rests between beats.
High blood pressure means the pressure in one’s arteries is higher than it should be. Another name for high blood pressure is HYPERTENSION.
Hypertension is a pressure of 140 systolic or higher and/or 90 diastolic or higher that stays high over time. If you’re an adult and your systolic pressure is 120 to 139, or your diastolic pressure is 80 to 89 (or both), you have “pre-hypertension”- which means you may be at risk of developing hypertension.
WHAT CAUSES HYPERTENSION AND CAN IT BE CURED?
No one knows exactly what causes most cases of high blood pressure but it is postulated to be caused by an interplay of several factors like: genetics (inheritance), your body’s handling of salt, kidney function, sympathetic nervous system over-activity (the part of the body that controls response to stress, fear, anxiety etc), blood vessel tone/stiffness, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, excess alcohol consumption etc.
It cannot be cured in most cases, but it can be treated and managed successfully with a combination of drugs and some changes to lifestyle.
However, in about 5-10% of cases (especially in the young), hypertension has a definite cause and if this cause is found, hypertension can potentially be cured.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OR SIGNS OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?
High blood pressure USUALLY HAS NO SIGNS OR SYMPTOMS and that’s why it is so dangerous.
Occasionally, people may complain of vague non-specific symptoms like headaches, dizziness, palpitations, etc but it is best not to wait for symptoms because such symptoms may signify early end-organ damages.
Not treating hypertension is dangerous because high blood pressure increases the risk of heart abnormalities (like heart attack or heart failure), stroke and kidney disease.
Make sure you get your blood pressure checked regularly (which is free in most hospitals including CardioCare Cardiovascular Specialty Hospital) and treat it the way your doctor advises.
ARE THERE TESTS I CAN DO FOR HYPERTENSION?
YES, there are a number of tests that should be carried out when someone is found to have hypertension.
These tests are done to possibly exclude a definite cause as aforementioned, to find out if there are other illnesses that usually go along with hypertension or typically worsen it, and to evaluate the extent to which the high blood pressure has affected one or more organs.
These tests could include but not limited to, urine testing, kidney function testing, heart structure and function imaging, occasionally kidney artery imaging, thyroid function testing, diabetes and cholesterol screening.
On some occasions, the doctor may recommend a 24-HOUR BLOOD PRESSURE MONITOR if your blood pressure is fluctuating widely, if the doctor wants to confirm that the blood pressure is well controlled throughout the day, or if there is a suspicion that your blood pressure in the clinic setting doesn’t represent your true blood pressure.
ARE THERE NATURAL WAYS OF TREATING HYPERTENSION?
Hypertension is almost always treated by certain natural lifestyle changes which MAYBE used alone or in combination with certain drugs. These include:
• Reduction in salt intake, saturated fat, trans fat and added sugar;
• Daily exercise (jogging, brisk walking, aerobics) lasting up to 30minutes or walking a minimum of 10,000 steps everyday- although ;
• Adding fresh fruits and vegetables to meals;
• Avoiding alcohol, cigarettes and high caffeine products;
• Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
These lifestyle changes are also useful in not only preventing hypertension in adults who are at risk but form an integral part of treatment.
MY FRIEND SAID I SHOULD USE A CERTAIN HERBAL DRINK, LEAF, MORINGA, GREEN TEA OR QUAIL EGG, DOES IT WORK?
There is hardly any concrete scientific evidence that using any of these so-called quick-fixes helps consistently enough in most individuals.
However, scientists do know that adding vegetables and fruits in whatever form including leaves or certain herbs may bring down blood pressure by about 5-8mmhg, but it is not advised to use your body for an experiment in a serious condition.
Speak to a hypertension specialist about any additional ‘remedy’ you are considering because some of them actually worsen outcome over the long-term.
NEED TO GET TESTED, TREATED OR GET EXPERT ADVICE ON THIS?
You may see a knowledgeable doctor about this, and perhaps consult a HYPERTENSION SPECIALIST (Consultant Physician, Cardiologist, Nephrologist, Endocrinologist, etc).
Most good hospitals can avail you of this service.