A person’s lifestyle greatly affects how he or she lives today. You might see someone who looks fit and healthy or well-kept and fine. But always remember that physical appearance is never a measure to determine exactly one’s health status.
The people you think are fine, might be candidates of an early-stage Hypertension. Hypertension is another name for high blood pressure which is a widespread phenomenon in the former times up to the present.
Medical guidelines define hypertension as a blood pressure higher than 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg). It is when the pressure of the blood being pumped through your arteries is higher than it should be and has been called the “silent killer” because often it has no signs or symptoms and many people do not even know they have it until they have come to feel discomfort or ill-at-ease.
While there is no specific point of causes, there are known risk factors that increase the possibility that one will become hypertensive and part of these factors are beyond one’s control which includes:
Sex– men are more prone to hypertension at a younger age, while rates tend to be higher in women at older ages.
Genetics – having family members with hypertension increases the chance that you will have it too.
Race – high blood pressure is more common in people with dark skin than in people with pale skin
Age – your blood vessels become more rigid as you age, preventing them from opening as effectively as when you were younger, which increases peripheral resistance.
Other risk factors can be modified by proper diet and a healthy lifestyle. The most common risk factors include being overweight and inactive, eating a high salt diet, and smoking.
Diagnosing Hypertension and Treatment
Doctors often classify blood pressure into four categories:
Normal blood pressure – below 120 / 80 mm Hg.
Prehypertension – 120-139 / 80-89 mm Hg.
Stage 1 hypertension – 140-159 / 90-99 mm Hg.
Stage 2 hypertension – 160 / 100 mm Hg or higher.
A decrease or increase of both numbers (systolic and diastolic pressure) indicates abnormality and shouldn’t be neglected as it will cause any complications.
The following drugs are the most common ones in treating Hypertension
Diuretics – these promote the production of urine, which removes excess fluid from the bloodstream. This reduces the volume of blood in your circulatory system and your blood pressure.
Beta-blockers – these make your heart beat slower and with less force, and your blood vessels open up. This reduces blood pressure and improves blood flow.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, (ACE inhibitors) – these block the action of a hormone that causes your blood vessels to constrict and that thickens and stiffens the walls of your blood vessels and heart, as well as triggering the release of another hormone that increases the amount of sodium and water in your body. Together, this has the effect of lowering blood pressure.
Angiotensin II receptor blockers – these affect similar biochemical pathways as ACE inhibitors, for similar effects.
Alpha blockers – these block the action of hormones that trigger vasoconstriction of the smaller arteries and veins, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
Calcium channel blockers – these relax and widen blood vessels by preventing calcium from entering heart cells and the muscle cells within the blood vessel walls. This slows your heart rate and vasodilates your arteries, resulting in lower blood pressure.
While there are factors which are beyond our control, prevention should focus more on the aspects that can be modified.
- Taking a Supplement – antioxidants hugely help for blood vessel dilation and thus, facilitates a normal blood pressure.
- Healthy diet – eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and make sure to cut your sodium, fat and sugar intake.
- Maintaining a healthy weight – being overweight increases you risk for high blood pressure .
- Getting enough physical activity – helps maintain a healthy weight so exercising regularly can greatly help in controlling your blood pressure.
- Stop Smoking – cigarette smoking raises blood pressure and a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Limiting alcohol intake – too much also raises blood pressure.
- Switching to decaf coffee – A study from Duke University Medical Center, caffeine consumption of 500 mg—roughly three 8-ounce cups of coffee—increased blood pressure by 4 mmHg, and that effect lasted until bedtime.
- Work less – more than 41 hours per week at the office raises your risk of hypertension by 15%, according to a University of California, Irvine, study of 24,205 California residents.
Life is too short to suffer for something that can be prevented. Ward it off while you can. You might regret you didn’t take the chance when you had.