What most directly causes hypertension?
Hypertension is also known as high blood pressure. It is defined as transitory (short-lived) or chronic elevation of the blood pressure in the arteries. This elevation may lead to cardiovascular damage.
Blood pressure is broken into systolic and diastolic values. The systolic measurement is the peak pressure in the arteries, and the diastolic measurement is the minimum pressure in the arteries. Normal blood pressure is defined as being below 120/80, where 120 represents the systolic (maximum) measurement and 80 represents the diastolic (minimum) measurement. Hypertension occurs when blood pressure reaches above 140/90. The risk for hypertension is increased in a condition known as prehypertension, which occurs when the blood pressure is between 120/80 and 139/89.
The two types of hypertension are essential or secondary. High blood pressure with an unknown cause is essential hypertension. High blood pressure with a known or direct cause is secondary hypertension. Some of the causes of secondary hypertension include kidney disease, tumors, or medications such as the use of birth control pills.
The most common causes of hypertension include smoking, obesity or being overweight, diabetes, having a sedentary lifestyle, lack of physical activity, high salt or alcohol intake levels, insufficient consumption of calcium, potassium, or magnesium, a deficiency in vitamin D, stress, aging, chronic kidney disease and adrenal and thyroid conditions or tumors. Some individuals may also be genetically predisposed to hypertension.
Headaches, fatigue, confusion, dizziness, nausea, vision problems, chest pains, breathing problems, irregular heartbeat and blood in the urine are all symptoms of hypertension. However, many cases of high blood pressure are asymptomatic, which is why periodic blood pressure screenings are recommended.
Hypertension is diagnosed by a health care professional who uses a sphygmomanometer to measure blood pressure. However, the results of a sphygmomanometer measurement may be skewed by stress, so further inquiry about family history and other risk factors is often required to make a complete and accurate diagnosis. When hypertension is suspected, electrocardiograms, echocardiograms or blood tests may be used to further evaluate the heart or identify possible causes of secondary hypertension.
Hypertension is treated by changing lifestyle factors including eating, smoking and exercise habits. Pharmaceutical interventions include ACE inhibitors, ARB drugs, beta-blockers, diuretics, calcium channel blockers, alpha-blockers and peripheral vasodilators
The best way to prevent hypertension is to eat healthily and get exercise. Reduction of stress, salt intake and alcohol intake are also helpful ways to prevent hypertension.
Which of the following blood pressure readings would be indicative of hypertension?
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is a measure of the force blood exudes on the arterial wall during the heart’s contraction or pumping phase (know as systole) and relaxation phase (known as diastole). Systolic pressure is the higher of the two values. Blood pressure relates to the circulation of blood through the arteries and the arterial resistance to blood flow.
The pressure is usually measured noninvasively with a sphygmomanometer. In this manner, a cuff around the upper arm is inflated to a pressure higher than arterial pressure in order to stop blood flow through the brachial artery in the arm. As the cuff pressure is slowly released, blood begins to flow again through the artery and is associated with a thumping sound. By listening through a stethoscope, the first thumping sound of blood flowing through the artery is recorded as systolic pressure. Once the flow is completely restored, the thumping sounds disappear and at the final muffling sounds are recorded as diastolic pressure.
Pressure readings are presented as systolic/diastolic and values up to 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of Mercury) are considered normal. Readings from 120/80 to 139/89 are considered pre-hypertensive, and readings of 140/90 and higher are considered hypertensive. The diagnosis of hypertension is not based on an isolated elevated reading. It is made when two separate and independent readings yield values ≥140/90. As yet, there are no defined “lower limits” of blood pressure.
What factors affect blood pressure?
Systolic pressure is affected by a variety of factors. Factors such as anxiety, caffeine consumption, and performing resistance and cardiovascular exercises, cause immediate, temporary increases in systolic pressure. During cardiovascular exercise, for example, systolic pressure can increase to values close to and over 200 with higher levels of effort.
Diastolic pressure, on the other hand, is a relatively stable value during exercise and under daily activity. It does not fluctuate significantly throughout the day or in response to outside influences. During cardiovascular exercise, this value may even decrease. Long-term factors that may lead to hypertension include smoking, hardening of the arteries (called Arteriosclerosis), having excess body weight, eating large amounts of salt, taking certain medications, and being exposed to chronic stress.
Monitoring blood pressure
People who have high blood pressure are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease which includes stroke and heart failure, kidney disease, and all-cause mortality. High blood pressure means that the cardiovascular system has to work much harder in order to circulate blood throughout the body. For people who are mildly hypertensive, with readings around 140/90, the most effective means of controlling blood pressure is lifestyle modification.
Regular cardiovascular exercise, eating a low-salt, low-fat diet, and maintaining a healthy body weight are ways that one can optimize blood pressure values. Blood pressure values are actually reduced for up to three hours after completing a cardiovascular exercise session! For individuals with more severe hypertension well above 140/90, medication may be prescribed. There are several types of medications that can be taken. For example, beta-blockers act to reduce the heart’s need for oxygen by decreasing resting heart rate and the heart’s contractility. Calcium channel blockers act to dilate blood vessels, thus decreasing peripheral resistance.