What happens when you have High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is measured by the amount of force your blood is pushing against the walls of your blood vessels. Your heart is responsible for pumping blood into those vessels which then carry blood throughout your body.

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a condition where the force of blood flowing against the walls of your arteries is too high. This puts excessive pressure on your heart, making it work harder to pump your blood. If untreated, this high force can lead to several different health conditions including heart and kidney disease.

It’s often difficult to tell if you have high blood pressure because symptoms aren’t noticeable until the condition has become severe. If you are not symptomatic and are diagnosed with hypertension, it’s usually because it was caught by a GP, nurse, or other healthcare practitioner during a routine blood pressure check.

Physical Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
  • Intense headaches
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Nosebleeds
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Blood in your urine
  • Pounding in your chest, ears, and neck
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Facial flushing

Different Factors of Hypertension
Why some people get high blood pressure and others don’t isn’t fully understood. However, there are different factors that make someone more likely to develop high blood pressure.

  • Being overweight
  • Drinking excessively
  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Kidney disease
  • Age
  • Thyroid disorders

A family history of hypertension and poor diet choices like eating excessive processed foods, refined sugars, and salt also contributes to high blood pressure.

Primary vs Secondary Hypertension
Primary hypertension, which used to be known as essential hypertension, is high blood pressure that isn’t caused by a health condition. Instead, it’s usually caused by lifestyle factors like being overweight, eating a poor diet, or having a family history of high blood pressure.

Secondary hypertension is high blood pressure that is the result of having another health condition. It can be caused by diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, thyroid disorders, pregnancy, and sleep apnea.

Hypertension Treatment
Like most illnesses and diseases, lowering your blood pressure is an ongoing process that involves healthy lifestyle choices and/or medications. To help monitor your blood pressure, it’s worth investing in a monitor you can keep at home so you can frequently check your levels. You should also eat a healthy diet, cut back on processed or salty foods, reduce your alcohol intake, and try to exercise more. Even taking a short walk each day or using the stairs instead of a lift can make a world of difference.

Other ways to prevent hypertension include:
  • Stop smoking
  • Drink less caffeine
  • Get enough sleep
  • Find ways to reduce stress
  • Lose weight

Instant cure or not, it’s important to maintain a well-rounded diet and to follow the advice of your GP to not only treat hypertension but to prevent other conditions like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Your GP may also prescribe medications to help.

Many people also take high blood pressure medication to regulate their blood pressure. For these medications to work, you will still need to make good choices when it comes to food, drinks, and other habits. It may take some time for these processes to start being effective so have patience and stick with it. Your body will thank you!

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