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Understanding hypertension: Causes, symptoms, and risk factors

25 Jun 2024

Whenever you put excessive pressure on something, it starts wearing out. wears out sooner than it’s supposed to. Moreover, when you don’t do anything about the wear and tear, it minimises the possibility of things getting better. This is true for all the parts of our body as well. But today, we will talk about how excessive pressure on your artery walls, something that sounds very meagre, can greatly affect your body. 

Let’s discuss Hypertension, what causes it, what are the symptoms and possible risk factors. 

Ready? Let’s go!

What is blood pressure?

Before talking about Hypertension, let’s first understand what is blood pressure. Your blood pressure is simply the force at which the blood in your body is being pushed through the arteries. 

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension or high blood pressure is when the force at which the blood is being pushed into your arteries is consistently too high. As a result, this not only affects your arteries but your heart also has to work more to pump the blood. It can also lead to many complications such as a stroke or a heart attack. Additionally, if you have narrow arteries, it can create more resistance your blood pressure. 

How do I know if I have Hypertension?

To know whether or not you have high blood pressure, you need to understand the blood pressure ranges. It is usually measured in millimetres of mercury (mm Hg). Blood pressure is divided into 4 categories:

Normal – Below 120/80 mm Hg

Elevated – (top number) 120 to 129 mm Hg and (bottom number) below 80 mm Hg

Stage 1 hypertension – (top number) 130 to 139 mm Hg or (bottom number) between 80 and 89 mm Hg

Stage 2 hypertension – (top number) 140 mm Hg or higher or (bottom number) 90 mm Hg or higher

A blood pressure higher than 180/120 mm Hg comes under a hypertensive emergency case and requires immediate help. 

What could be the Hypertension causes?

Primary Hypertension

Primary hypertension develops over time and most people go through this type of high blood pressure. It is difficult to pinpoint one single cause. A mix of several factors come together to cause Primary Hypertension. These are:

  • Physical inactivity
  • Consuming high alcohol content
  • Poor eating patterns
  • Your genes and age
  • If you’re diagnosed with diabetes or any other metabolic syndrome

Secondary Hypertension

Secondary hypertension occurs quickly and has the potential to become very severe. Unlike primary hypertension, secondary hypertension has at least 1 cause that will stand out to your healthcare professional. These could be:

  • A kidney disease
  • Recreational drug use
  • Having obstructive sleep apnea
  • Consuming tobacco
  • Heart defects
  • Chronic alcohol consumption
  • Endocrine tumors
  • Side effects from certain medicines

What are the hypertension symptoms?

Medically, high blood pressure is also known as a “silent killer”. That’s because you usually see no hypertension symptoms for years. It’s difficult to tell if something is wrong in your body. You could have it for years and still have no clue at all. However, the damage is still happening.

When going through a blood pressure of 180/120 mmHg or higher, the symptoms some people may experience would be:

  • Nosebleeding
  • Heart palpating
  • Headaches

However, these symptoms may still not be visible until the high blood pressure has reached a life-threatening stage.

What are the risks of developing hypertension?

Here are the risks that make you prone to having high blood pressure:

  • Being 55 or above in age
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having a family history of high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes
  • Being inactive
  • Consumption of tobacco
  • Consumption of too much alcohol
  • Eating sodium-rich food
  • Having medical conditions like metabolic syndrome, thyroid disease, kidney disease or obstructive sleep apnea

What complications can hypertension lead to?

When the pressure on your artery walls is way too much, your blood vessels and organs end up paying the price. The higher the pressure, the more difficult it is to control it and the damage it causes can lead to multiple complications. Let’s dig into these complications:

  • Heart failure
  • Kidney issues
  • Heart attack/stroke
  • Vision problems
  • Dementia
  • Metabolic syndrome

Be it your friends or your family, never hesitate to lean in for help from your close ones. Remember, professional help is also always around the corner and you’re never all on your own in this journey. You can cultivate a culture of resilience and wellness and empower yourself to live healthily. 

Each day, stay optimistic and determined knowing that with awareness and action, you can overcome any challenge. Here’s to your continued health and vitality. Stay strong, be informed, and continue moving forward in your life’s wellness journey.

About the Author

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Devina Aswal
MBBS, DDM, FCR, CIC

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