Also called high blood pressure, hypertension is a medical condition that affects the arteries. It occurs if the force of the blood that pushes against your artery walls is too high. If not treated right away, it can cause a variety of complications that can put your heart, kidneys, and other vital organs in danger.
How do you know if your blood pressure is higher than it should be?
To know what your blood pressure level is at a particular moment, a blood pressure measuring device is necessary. Doctors use a sphygmomanometer, sometimes also known as blood pressure monitor, blood pressure gauge, or blood pressure meter, which is available in two types — manual and digital. Nowadays, many people just purchase their own sphygmomanometer to be able to monitor their blood pressure levels even when at home.
According to the American Heart Association, a blood pressure reading of 130/80 millimeters of mercury or higher (mmHg) is classified as high. So, if yours is something like 140/90 mmHg, you are likely going to get a diagnosis of high blood pressure.
What are the risk factors associated with hypertension?
Did you know that there are over 100 million American adult men and women who are dealing with hypertension? This health problem is prevalent not only in the United States but in many other parts of the world too. It can strike anyone, most especially those who:
Are 60 years old or older
According to data, approximately 65% of adults in the United States develop hypertension once they reach the age of 60. However, in the last few years, the number of teenagers and young people who have it has increased.
Have a family history of hypertension
Those who have a grandparent, parent, uncle, or aunt with high blood pressure have higher odds of developing the same illness than someone who do not. It is one of those medical problems that you can say “runs in the family.”
Are overweight or obese
Having extra pounds and fats in the body forces your heart and blood to work harder when supplying oxygen and essential nutrients to your cells, tissues, muscles, and organs. As a result, the pressure levels that your artery walls are subjected to become higher.
Are a couch potato
Those who lack day-to-day physical activity tend to have higher heart rates and higher blood pressure levels than those who exercise or workout for even just half an hour a day.
What are the things that you should quit or totally stay away from to not be in danger of hypertension?
Studies have found that salt and blood pressure have a directly proportional relationship to each other. The more salt you have in your body, the higher your blood pressure levels are. To remedy that, you should cut back on salt, and start eating low-sodium meals.
Finishing a six-pack after work or going drinking with friends at bars and clubs almost every night is not good for your heart. Alcohol contains many elements that can harm your heart, and trigger a rise in your blood pressure levels. For good health, you should not drink more than two drinks per day if you are a man, or limit yourself to up to one drink a day if you are a woman.
Not all fats are bad, but having too much in the body can endanger your heart. Excess fats that are not used up by your body to perform its functions end up on the walls of your arteries, creating blockages that restrict your blood flow and circulation. If this happens, you become at high risk of a stroke or heart attack.
If you have a sweet tooth, you should learn how to control your sugar cravings. Having too much sugar in the body makes you prone to tooth decay and weight gain, and puts you at great risk of hypertension and diabetes. It has several long-term effects — such as kidney damage, kidney failure, and blindness —that can seriously ruin your life.
Physical activity plays an important role in managing your blood pressure. The less active you are, the higher your risk of hypertension is. Ditch your sedentary lifestyle, and, to start, get at least half an hour of exercise at least three times a week. After some time, you should be able to workout longer and more frequently.
There are certain recreational drugs that can drastically increase your blood pressure levels. If you use them all the time and in large doses, you are putting yourself in danger of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular complications. For the good of your health, you should not touch these dangerous substances, which include ecstasy, amphetamines, and cocaine.
During stressful situations, your body releases hormones that can trigger a temporary increase in your blood pressure levels. When this happens, your blood vessels narrow, and you will feel your heart beating faster. If you are always stressed out, whether because of tight deadlines at work or problems with your family or partner, you become at high risk of hypertension. Your odds of getting a heart attack or stroke rise too. To avoid being in such as terrible situation, you should find ways to relax and calm your mind, and learn how to manage your stress better.
Cigarettes contain nicotine, which is a substance that has the ability to raise your heart rate and blood pressure. Once a lot of it accumulates inside your body, it can narrow your arteries and harden their walls, and lead to blood clot, a stroke, or a heart attack. Because of how much damage smoking can do to your body, the sooner you quit it, the better.
When should you consult a doctor?
If the common symptoms of hypertension, such as severe headache, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, breathing difficulties, vision problems, and fatigue, persist for several hours, you should go see a doctor right away.