High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common condition that can have serious health consequences if left untreated. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), it is estimated that around 1 in 4 adults in the UK have hypertension, equating to approximately 15 million people.
So, what is high blood pressure, how can you spot the signs, and how is it treated? Discover everything you need to know below…
How is high blood pressure defined?
High blood pressure is defined as having a systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) of 140 mm Hg or higher, and/or a diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) of 90 mm Hg or higher.
Blood pressure is measured using a device called a sphygmomanometer. It is placed around the upper arm and inflated to squeeze the brachial artery. The pressure at which the artery first starts to pulse is known as the systolic blood pressure, and the pressure when the pulse disappears is the diastolic blood pressure.
A normal blood pressure reading is around 120/80 mm Hg.
How do you feel when your blood pressure is too high?
The scary thing about high blood pressure is that it usually has no symptoms. For this reason, it is often dubbed the ‘silent killer’. You may have high blood pressure for years without even knowing it.
In some cases, the condition can cause symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, or a pounding sensation in the chest, neck, or ears. However, these symptoms may be caused by other conditions.
It’s also important to note that high blood pressure can increase the risk of serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. This can lead to more obvious symptoms if not treated. It is important to have regular check-ups with your doctor and keep track of your blood pressure to detect hypertension early.
What can cause high blood pressure?
A variety of factors can trigger high blood pressure, and in some cases the cause may be unknown. Some of the most commonly known causes include:
Genetics: High blood pressure can run in families, and certain genetic factors may increase a person’s risk.
Lifestyle factors: A diet high in salt and saturated fats, lack of physical activity, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption can all contribute to the development of hypertension.
Age: As we age, our blood vessels become less flexible, which can increase the resistance to blood flow and lead to high blood pressure.
Obesity: Having too much body fat can put extra stress on the heart and blood vessels, which can lead to high blood pressure.
Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, and sleep apnoea can increase the risk of hypertension.
Medications: Some medications, such as birth control pills and certain decongestants, can raise blood pressure.
Are there ways to lower your blood pressure quickly?
There are a few ways to lower blood pressure quickly such as:
- Taking medications like beta blockers, or ACE inhibitors
- Relaxation techniques
- Sodium reduction
- Regular physical activity
It is important to note that these methods should not be used as a substitute for long-term lifestyle changes and medical treatment recommended by your physician.
How is blood pressure treated?
High blood pressure is typically treated with a combination of lifestyle changes, dietary management and medications. The specific treatment plan will depend on your individual blood pressure readings, overall health, and any other medical conditions you may have.
If you want to get your blood pressure under control, book an appointment with Dr Konrad Grosser today.