Blood pressure is the force released by the blood against the walls of the blood vessels, this pressure is determined by the amount of work done by the heart and the resistance of the blood vessels. If your heart pumps more blood and your arteries get narrow, your blood pressure will definitely be high.
High blood pressure is a long-term condition and so it is very possible that symptoms might not surface for years, but it does not stop the damage to your blood vessels and this can be detected by a physician. High blood pressure can be extremely dangerous if it remains uncontrolled because it can lead to other life-threatening diseases. A normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm of mercury (mmHg), but hypertension is higher than 130 over 80 mmHg. People with high blood pressure over 130/80, may use medication to treat it before it becomes malignant.
Most people living with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms even if blood pressure reaches dangerously high levels. Only a few people living with high blood pressure may have headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds, but most of these symptoms aren’t specific and usually, don’t occur or is revealed until the high blood pressure has reached a severe or life-threatening stage.
It is advised that you start checking your blood pressure at the age of 18 to be able to monitor increase and decrease. Check on both arms at each doctor’s appointment to determine the differences in both arms. When you have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may have to check more frequently (3 times more) than someone who has not been diagnosed with it.
High blood pressure does not have any identifiable cause, it develops over the years, this called primary hypertension, but other types of hypertension (secondary) can be caused by conditions such as thyroid problems, kidney problems, use of birth control pills, too much intake of pain relievers e.t.c. Other major risk factors that can increase the chances of getting hypertension include:
- Age: As stated above, the risk of having high blood pressure increases as you get older. This is because the arteries get narrower and stiffer as you age. It is common with people aged above 60.
- Ethnicity: High blood pressure is common with some particular race and ethi\nic groups. Africans are known to have a very high rate of high blood pressure.
- Family history: Most families have a history of high blood pressure.
- Excess weight/Obesity: The more weight you gain, the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the volume of blood circulated through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls. Other risk factors include: Not being physically active, use of tobacco and too much alcohol intake, stress, high salt consumption, pregnancy…
Living a very healthy lifestyle can help in controlling high blood pressure. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes including:
- Eating a heart-healthy diet with less sodium (salt).
- Getting regular physical activity, engaging in exercises.
- Maintaining a healthy/normal weight or losing weight if you’re overweight or obese.
- Limiting the intake of alcohol regularly.
Sometimes, a healthy lifestyle may not be enough, your doctor might prescribe drugs that help you lower your blood pressure. Treatment goals depend on how healthy you are. Both living a healthy lifestyle and taking medications help reduce complications associated with high blood pressure.