Blood Pressure is often called a silent killer. Also known as hypertension, it is the force exerted on the arterial walls by the blood flowing through them. Susceptibility rises with age, with incidence highest among those ages 60 years and older.
A reading of 120/80 mmHg on the sphygmomanometer, a device used to record the blood pressure, is considered normal. The numerator indicates the Systolic Blood Pressure, whereas the denominator is the Diastolic Blood Pressure.
Any reading above 140/90 mmHg is considered high and will be diagnosed as hypertension. Persistently high blood pressure levels may result in a wide range of dangerous complications.
What percentage of adults have high blood pressure?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 26% of the American population has high blood pressure. Although complications of chronic hypertension are life-threatening, symptoms can be vague.
Some of the non-specific symptoms a hypertensive person can suffer are headaches, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and difficulty breathing. As the symptoms are vague and non-specific, many patients remain undiagnosed and unaware until their levels reach a dangerous level.
What causes high blood pressure?
Although hypertension mostly arises spontaneously and has no specific cause, it also occurs secondary to other diseases like kidney problems, heart problems, obstructive sleep apnoea, thyroid abnormalities, and adrenal diseases.
Unhealthy lifestyles are often cited in many hypertension cases. Other risk factors are obesity, age, sex, race, lack of exercise, poor diet, smoking, alcohol intake, and family history.
Though most of the initial symptoms of hypertension are non-specific, patients develop severe symptoms secondary to the complications later in life.
Blood pressure higher than 180/120 mmHg, also termed hypertensive crisis, is considered dangerous as it can cause malfunctions in multiple organs, which lead leading to complications:
stroke and brain hemorrhages,
coronary artery disease and other heart diseases,
How to manage high blood pressure
If you develop any symptoms of hypertension, consult your doctor immediately. It is also to get your blood pressure checked regularly. Due to the non-specificity of symptoms, doctors recommend getting screened for high blood pressure every 2 years after 18 years of age and yearly after 40 years of age.
Most blood pressure cases can be controlled through simple lifestyle changes like weight reduction, adopting a healthier diet, regular exercise, quitting smoking, and reducing the amount of alcohol you consume. If your blood pressure levels remain high, you should manage it with medication.