The medical term for high blood pressure is hypertension which is a condition that affects around one-third of the population, and it’s important to be aware of symptoms. Though hypertension is not always life-threatening, it can lead to other health problems if left untreated. If you have been feeling short of breath, having headaches, or feeling dizzy and off-balance, you may be experiencing symptoms of hypertension. Hypertension is a dangerous condition that can lead to heart disease and stroke if not treated. There are many things that can contribute to the risk of hypertension, including the environment we live in, our genetics, stress levels and weight.
Symptoms and Causes of Hypertension
Although the exact origin of high blood pressure is unknown, a variety of variables have a role in its causes. If you have a family history of high blood pressure, you are at a higher risk. A diet of high salt (sodium) and a high saturated fat diet are contributors. Having diabetes or being obese can also increase the risk of hypertension. Lifestyle choices like being inactive, consuming alcohol and smoking can also increase the risk. People above 60 years of age are more susceptible to high blood pressure. (Texas Heart Institute, 2020)
There are several different symptoms that may indicate hypertension in a person. These include headaches, migraines, or a pounding sensation in their head or chest, lightheadedness or dizziness. Sweating, flushing and trouble sleeping are also symptoms. (WebMD)
Problems Caused by Hypertension
High blood pressure can have a variety of negative effects on your health. It can cause catastrophic damage to vital organs such as the heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes.
Here’s how it can affect your system:
Heart and Heart Disease
High blood pressure damages your arteries by making them less elastic, reducing blood and oxygen flow to your heart and causing heart disease. If left untreated, it might lead to angina, heart attack or heart failure.
High blood pressure can induce a stroke by causing the arteries that deliver blood and oxygen to the brain to rupture or get clogged. During a stroke, brain cells die as a result of a lack of oxygen. Strokes can cause significant impairments in speech, movement, and other fundamental functions. High blood pressure is associated with worse cognitive function and dementia later in life, especially in middle age.
Adults with diabetes, high blood pressure, or both are more likely to develop the chronic renal disease than those who do not. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021)
How to Monitor Your Blood Pressure
The two portions of blood pressure are measured by blood pressure readings: systolic and diastolic pressures. The force of blood flow through an artery while the heart beats is known as systolic pressure. The force of blood flow inside blood arteries when the heart is resting between beats is known as diastolic pressure. A normal blood pressure level is less than 120/80 mmHg. (Texas Heart Institute, 2020)
Some healthy habits like engaging in at least 150 minutes of physical exercise every week (about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week), abstaining from smoking, limiting sodium (salt) and alcohol consumption as part of a healthy diet, maintaining healthy body weight, and stress management can help your health and reduce hypertension. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021)
It’s important to not self-diagnose and treat high blood pressure. Care from an internal medicine doctor or cardiologist who specializes in cardiology and heart problems should be consulted.
If you are diagnosed with hypertension, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. This includes taking medication as prescribed and making dietary and lifestyle changes. With treatment, many people with hypertension can lead normal, healthy lives with improved life expectancy.
“High Blood Pressure Symptoms – Hypertension Symptoms.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/hypertension-symptoms-high-blood-pressure.
“High Blood Pressure (Hypertension).” Texas Heart Institute, 30 Sept. 2020, www.texasheart.org/heart-health/heart-information-center/topics/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/.
“High Blood Pressure Symptoms and Causes.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 May 2021, www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/about.htm.