High blood pressure is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.
Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure. without proper treatment, high blood pressure or hypertension can lead to grave health conditions including health failure, vision loss, stroke, kidney disease and if care is not taken sudden death.
According to the center for disease control and prevention (CDC) approximately one in every three adults has high blood pressure which equates to 75 million people in Nigeria.
Most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even if blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels. A few people with high blood pressure may have headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds, but these signs and symptoms aren’t specific and usually don’t occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe or life-threatening stage.
There are four stages of high blood pressure or hypertension:
Stage 1 or Pre-hypertension is 120/80 to 139/89.
Stage 2 or Mild Hypertension is 140/90 to 159/99.
Stage 3 or Moderate Hypertension is 160/100 to 179/109.
Stage 4 or Severe Hypertension is 180/110 or higher.
Here are two types of high blood pressure.
- Primary (essential hypertension) For most adults, there’s no identifiable cause of high blood pressure. This type of high blood pressure, called primary (essential) hypertension, tends to develop gradually over many years.
- Secondary Hypertension: Some people have high blood pressure caused by an underlying condition. This type of high blood pressure, called secondary hypertension, tends to appear suddenly and cause higher blood pressure than does primary hypertension. Various conditions and medications can lead to secondary hypertension, including:Obstructive sleep apnea, Kidney problems, Adrenal gland tumors, Thyroid problems, Certain defects you’re born with (congenital) in blood vessels, Certain medications, such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers and some prescription drugs, Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines
High blood pressure can be triggered by the following factors:
Age: The risk of high blood pressure increases as you age. Until about age 64, high blood pressure is more common in men. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after age 65.
Family history: High blood pressure tends to run in families.
Being overweight or obese: The more you weigh 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.
Not been physically active: People who are inactive tend to have higher heart rates. The higher your heart rate, the harder your heart must work with each contraction and the stronger the force on your arteries. Lack of physical activity also increases the risk of being overweight.
Smoking: Not only does smoking or chewing tobacco immediately raise your blood pressure temporarily, but the chemicals in tobacco can damage the lining of your artery walls. This can cause your arteries to narrow and increase your risk of heart disease. Secondhand smoke also can increase your heart disease risk.
Too much salt (sodium) in your diet: Too much sodium in your diet can cause your body to retain fluid, which increases blood pressure.
Too little potassium in your diet: Potassium helps balance the amount of sodium in your cells. If you don’t get enough potassium in your diet or retain enough potassium, you may accumulate too much sodium in your blood.
Drinking too much alcohol: Over time, heavy drinking can damage your heart. Having more than one drink a day for women and more than two drinks a day for men may affect your blood pressure.
Stress: High levels of stress can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure. If you try to relax by eating more, using tobacco or drinking alcohol, you may only increase problems with high blood pressure.
Certain chronic conditions: Certain chronic conditions also may increase your risk of high blood pressure, such as kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea.
Sometimes pregnancy contributes to high blood pressure, as well.
Although high blood pressure is most common in adults, children may be at risk, too. For some children, high blood pressure is caused by problems with the kidneys or heart. But for a growing number of kids, poor lifestyle habits, such as an unhealthy diet, obesity and lack of exercise, contribute to high blood pressure.
The excessive pressure on your artery walls caused by high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels, as well as organs in your body. The higher your blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater the damage. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to complications including: heart-attack or stroke, aneurysm, heart-failure, thickened/narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes, metabolic syndrome, trouble with memory or understanding and dementia.