Blood pressure refers to the resistance offered by the arterial walls to the flow of blood, with respect to the amount of blood that is pumped by your heart. The more thicker your arterial walls are and the more blood that your heart pumps, the higher your blood pressure goes.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, often does not show any visible symptoms until the condition goes totally out of control. So it is essential that you go in for a routine blood pressure check at least once in a year after you have crossed 18 years of age, and twice a year if you have health conditions such as diabetes, cholesterol etc. Once you learn that you suffer from hypertension, you can manage it with medications prescribed by your doctor.
Though hypertension can go undetected due to lack of symptoms, fewer people may experience headaches, difficulty in breathing, bleeding from the nose etc., which usually occur in most people when the blood pressure levels go drastically high and can turn out to be life-threatening.
Most of the adults develop hypertension as a progressive ageing disorder. This is called primary hypertension, and is not caused due to the effects of any underlying health disorders, as primary hypertension develops gradually with the passage of time.
However, another class of people suffer from high blood pressure which is caused due to side-effects of some medications or other health conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea, kidney disorders, thyroid problems, tumours of the adrenal gland, congenital vascular disorders, substance abuse etc. This type of hypertension is called secondary hypertension.
The risks of hypertension goes high with age. However, women tend to develop high blood pressure, when compared to men, after crossing the age of 65. Hypertension can also pass down through generations. Being overweight or obese also increases your risk to contract hypertension, as you require more amount of oxygenated blood to be supplied to various parts of your body, thereby increasing the pressure on your arterial walls. Lack of physical activity, high levels of sodium and low levels of potassium and low levels of vitamin D can also lead to hypertension. High levels of stress also increases your risk of suffering from high blood pressure. Sometimes, even during pregnancy, women go through phases of high blood pressure, which if left untreated, can cause damage to both the mother and the fetus.
Uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to irrevocable health conditions such as heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, heart failure, renal disorders etc.
When you go to your doctor and get your blood pressure tested, he/she may categorize your blood pressure based on the following values:
- Normal Blood Pressure: Below 120/80 mm Hg
- Prehypertension: Systolic pressure 120~139 mm Hg
Diastolic pressure 80~89 mm Hg
- Stage 1 Hypertension: Systolic pressure 140~159 mm Hg
Diastolic pressure 90~99 mm Hg
- Stage 2 Hypertension: Systolic pressure > 160 mm Hg
Diastolic pressure > 100 mm Hg
Your doctor may suggest certain lifestyle alterations that work along with medications to keep your blood pressure under control. You may consider quitting smoking and alcohol, as smoking and drinking is not going to do you any good. A healthy, balanced diet with lesser amounts of salt, regular exercise and stress management exercises such as meditation and yoga are usually recommended to support medications prescribed by your doctor.