What is Hypertension
(aka) High Blood Pressure?
(aka) High Blood Pressure?
When last did you get your blood pressure checked? Would you even know if it was in a normal range or slightly elevated?
Unlike most medical conditions, there are almost no warning signs that your blood pressure might be dangerously high. And make no mistake, hypertension kills. In Namibia alone, 1.9% of all deaths are a result of hypertension.
That’s why we’re going to take an in-depth look at what hypertension is, what causes it, which natural remedies are best for treating high blood pressure, and what preventative measures you can take to avoid suffering from it.
As always, if you suspect that you might be struggling with high blood pressure or any other medical condition, please schedule a consultation with your doctor.
Read the full article or Use the quick links to jump ahead.
- The definition of hypertension.
- What causes hypertension?
- Who is most likely to develop high blood pressure?
- What are the signs of hypertension?
- How do you diagnose hypertension?
- How do you treat hypertension?
- How do you prevent high blood pressure? Try these three home remedies.
- When should you see a doctor?
The definition of hypertension.
Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. But what does that mean? Well, blood pressure is the force that your blood exerts on the walls of your blood vessels. If you have high blood pressure, your heart has to work a lot harder to deliver blood to the different parts of your body.
Over time this can lead to serious medical conditions such as kidney disease, heart failure, a stroke, or aneurism.
- A normal blood pressure reading would be 120/less than 80.
- An elevated blood pressure reading is between 120-129/less than 80.
- A high blood pressure reading is above 140/90.
- And a severe blood pressure reading is above 180/120. (Please note that this level is dangerously high, and you must seek medical attention immediately.)
What causes hypertension?
While we aren’t certain what causes high blood pressure, we do know what influences it. Below you’ll find a list of factors that can increase your chance of suffering from hypertension:
- Obesity or fairly overweight.
- Genetics – a family history of high blood pressure.
- Diet – eating too much salt and fatty foods and consuming too much alcohol (more than one glass a day).
- Lack of exercise.
- Age – high blood pressure occurs more in people 35 and older.
- Lack of sleep – sleep apnea.
- Chronic kidney disease.
- Adrenal and thyroid disorders.
Causes of sudden high blood pressure.
Usually, a change in blood pressure occurs gradually. But there are instances where sudden spikes in blood pressure can occur. For example, an intense workout or extreme stress can cause a spike in blood pressure.
Some pregnant women also suffer from high blood pressure. This typically happens around the 20th week of pregnancy. A sudden spike in blood pressure can lead to preeclampsia, which is dangerous for mothers-to-be and their unborn baby.
Severe preeclampsia is life-threatening, and all gynaecologists will schedule an emergency caesarean. Once the baby has been born, the mother’s blood vessels will return to normal.
If you are pregnant and experience severe headaches, swelling in your feet and hands, blurred vision, or abdominal pain, contact your doctor immediately.
Welwitschia Hospital has some of the best gynaecologists in Namibia. For care you can depend on, please email email@example.com.
Who is most likely to develop high blood pressure?
According to a 2013 study, hypertension affects Namibian men and women equally (46.1% vs. 46%). We also know that socio-demographic factors massively influence whether you’re likely to suffer from high blood pressure at some point in your adult life.
The list below indicates those likely to develop hypertension:
- Pregnant women.
- Women taking birth control.
- People over 35.
- Overweight and inactive people.
- Highly stressed people.
- Insomnia sufferers.
What are the signs of hypertension?
The problem with high blood pressure, and what makes it so tricky to diagnose, is that there are virtually no signs to indicate you may be suffering from it. It can cause irreversible damage to the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels if it goes undetected for too long. As a result, it’s been dubbed a ‘silent killer.’
Most people will never experience any symptoms and the rare few who do usually complain about excessive sweating, headaches or nosebleeds, anxiety, sleep issues, and oddly enough, blushing.
The only way to confidently know if you have it is to check your blood pressure regularly.
How do you diagnose hypertension?
The only way to diagnose hypertension is to take several blood pressure readings over a couple of hours when you’re well-rested.
One reading just isn’t enough. Acute stress or a high-intensity workout can briefly elevate your blood pressure giving a false reading. That’s why it’s so important to take at least three readings at different times before a medical practitioner can confidently diagnose hypertension.
If you know that you struggle with high blood pressure, we recommend purchasing a blood pressure monitor to keep at home. You can buy these from most pharmacies.
How do you treat hypertension?
Believe it or not, but the best treatment for high blood pressure is changing your lifestyle. Of course, if you’ve been diagnosed with severe hypertension, your doctor will prescribe medication along with various natural remedies. Why? Because you need to get things under control quickly.
You could be given any of the following medications:
- angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- central agonists
- beta-blockers and alpha-blockers
- calcium-channel blockers
- peripheral adrenergic inhibitor
- angiotensin receptor blockers.
How do you prevent high blood pressure? Try these three home remedies.
But if you’re not yet critical, there are natural remedies for high blood pressure, which your doctor will advise you to implement immediately.
Just a note that if you want to prevent high blood pressure, you’ll need to implement the following lifestyle changes.
1. Switch up your diet
- If you love opening a bottle of red wine every other night or enjoying a few double gin and tonics, you’re going to have to cut that down. Men can have no more than two alcoholic drinks, and women should have at most one alcoholic beverage a night.
- You’ll also need to reduce your salt intake massively. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 5g a day. So put your saltshaker away, in fact, throw it away until your blood pressure reaches a normal level.
- Those high-fatty foods that you can’t resist, so your burgers, pizzas, cheese, ribs, lamb cutlets, you name it, they’re officially off the menu. Just say no.
- Fruit and vegetables are your friends. Make sure to add a healthy helping to your meals each day, particularly bananas and avocados. They’re rich in potassium —something you’re in desperate need of.
- Stick to low-fat dairy products, whole-grain high fibre foods, poultry without the skin, fish rich in Omega-3, nuts, beans and pulses, and always cook with 0live oil.
- Cut back on caffeine. We get it. For those of you who aren’t morning people, this is the worst form of torture, but caffeine isn’t good for your body, especially if you have hypertension. So, reduce your intake significantly.
- And if you must have something sweet, choose 75% dark chocolate in favour of milk chocolate. Small amounts of quality chocolate are actually good for you, so when that sweet craving hits, why not treat yourself.
2. Get active
If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you’re possibly a little overweight. So daily exercise is a must, even if it’s just going for a brisk walk or incorporating some light exercise into your daily routine.
It’s also never a bad idea to approach a professional fitness instructor to help get you started. They’ll tailor an exercise plan to your fitness level, ensuring that you don’t put unnecessary stress on your heart. If you are going to get fit on your own, keep in mind that you want to aim for 75 minutes at high intensity and 150 minutes at moderate each week.
3. Give meditation a chance
Stress is so bad for your body and will affect your blood pressure. You’ve got to learn to manage your stress levels, and a way to do this is by recognizing what your triggers are.
- Don’t use alcohol or recreational drugs to deal with stress.
- Meditate, spoil yourself with candlelit baths, or go for long walks.
- Clear your mind and focus on breathing through your stress. In the nose and out the mouth. No matter how long it takes, this simple technique can quickly calm you.
When should you see a doctor?
It’s vital to get your blood pressure checked regularly, especially the older you get. And you don’t always have to visit a doctor. Most pharmacies will have nurses on hand ready to take your blood pressure readings.
If you suspect that you might have high blood pressure, take a look at your lifestyle and ask yourself these questions.
Are you stressed more than not? Do you smoke or consume alcohol daily? Do you lead a relatively sedimentary lifestyle? Would you say you don’t eat a healthy and balanced diet? Do you battle to get a good night’s rest?
Remember, there are virtually no warning signs that you have hypertension. Very few people exhibit any high blood pressure symptoms. And the longer you wait, the higher your chance of causing irreparable damage to your heart.