What is hypertension, and how to control it?

Written by Risa Mae Q. Paladar

The condition that you will read more about in this article is one of the leading causes of death. Hypertension is a disorder in which your blood level increases than conventional values.

Another term for it is high blood pressure or HTN. It is a prevalent ailment in which the blood’s long-term force against the artery walls is high enough. It contributes to heart diseases.

Before going into much detail, you will learn first about what blood pressure is.

It is the exerted force by flowing blood on the walls of one of your body’s primary blood vessels. These are the arteries. BP is its acronym. Readings of BP that are higher than average for consecutive days are the basis for the diagnosis.

How do you measure BP?

There are two crucial components considered. One is the blood quantity that your heart pumps. The other one is defiance to blood flow in your arteries.

When diagnosed with HTN, it indicates that your heart has been working too much harder. It is also a sign that it is pumping more blood than usual, with your arteries becoming narrower than ever. mmHg or millimeters of mercury is the unit of measurement. Two digits represent it.

The top number reflects your systolic pressure. It denotes the tension in your arteries whenever your heart contracts or beats. The bottom number reflects your diastolic pressure. This digit represents the stress in your arteries when your heart relaxes.

BP should be less than 120/80 for it to be normal. You may be at risk when your systolic and diastolic is equal to or greater than 140mmHg and 90mmHg.

Types of Hypertensions

Primary hypertension is when there is no known cause for your condition. It is also known as essential hypertension. Identification happens after a doctor detects that your BP is high. This should be for consecutive visits. Diagnosis occurs when the physician has ruled out all other reasons.

If diagnosed with primary hypertension, you may not experience any symptoms at all. But, there is still a probability that you will experience fatigue and headache at times. It stated that the cause is not definite. Yet, researchers still identified related factors. These include genetics, alcohol intake, smoking, diet, and obesity.

The second significant type is secondary hypertension. Unlike essential hypertension, this type has a known cause. According to researchers, the most common reason for this type is an anomaly in the arteries.

There is a disruption of blood distribution to the kidneys. An underlying severe condition or disease may give rise to this. Examples of these are tumors and cancer.

Symptoms

“Silent killer” is another term for hypertension. It may be present without you experiencing any symptoms. It may be hard to persuade you to take medications, knowing that you may be asymptomatic.

Yet, it is crucial to remember that there can be an early detection for hypertension. This highlights the importance of having regular check-ups. Whenever diagnosed, your doctor will give you medications to control the disease.

While most people may be asymptomatic, you may encounter headaches and dyspnea. These symptoms do not appear until your BP has reached a dangerous level.

What is the main cause of hypertension?

According to research, there are a couple of risk factors that can cause HTN. For primary hypertension, there is no known cause. Your lifestyle, such as gaining weight and consuming much sodium and alcohol, genetics, and certain diseases are the leading causes of secondary hypertension.

Primary Hypertension

As mentioned earlier, there is no known or definite cause for primary HTN. It usually develops over time.

Secondary Hypertension

Causes of secondary hypertension range from a variety of illnesses to drugs, including:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Kidney disease
  • Adrenal gland tumors
  • Thyroid problems
  • Certain defects you’re born with (congenital) in blood vessels.
  • Certain medications: birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, and some prescription drugs
  • Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines

Risk Factors

There is no certainty that these are causes for hypertension development. But, they can still be threats and could escalate your risk of developing them in your later years.

These are the following:

  • Male gender: Men appear to have a more significant chance of acquiring the disease than women.
  • Old age: Higher rates of hypertension are prevalent in older people. Along with the risk factors are the primary and usual reasons for HTN diagnosis.

1. Genetics

Some DNA can cause the disease. Although you cannot solve this problem, you must tell your physician if it runs in your family.

2.  Obesity

Several studies have found that those who are obese have higher BP than those who are fit. Greater weight accounts for almost forty percent of all hypertension diagnoses.

3. Too much sodium intake

Excess salt consumption correlates with an increased HTN risk. If you overeat sodium, your body will not excrete fluid, which will raise your BP.

4. Little potassium intake

Potassium plays a significant role in your body. It helps stabilizes the sodium amount in your cells. Thus, the right amount of potassium intake equates to the excellent health of your heart. If not, sodium may build up in your blood.

5. Inactive physical activity/sedentary lifestyle

Having such a lifestyle increases your heart rate. It implies that every time your heart contracts, it has to work harder. Additionally, the force applied to the arteries is also more potent and more complex. It could also lead to obesity or being overweight.

6. Excessive alcohol consumption

In the long run, heavy drinking causes detrimental effects on your heart. There are recommendations on the number of drinks both for men and women to protect your health. Furthermore, excessive alcohol intake may also cause an elevation in your cholesterol levels.

7. Kidney problems

Kidneys also play a crucial role in eliminating harmful toxins and wastes as you urinate. When the kidneys get damaged, they cannot do their job with efficiency. There is a retention of the fluid inside your body. This situation leads to high BP and HTN.

What can happen if you have hypertension?

Because of its ability to keep patients unaware of their state, HTN is often known as the “silent killer.” You may experience symptoms like headache, irregular heart rhythms, fatigue, and others. It may also lead to heart diseases, stroke, kidney disorders, and blindness.

Symptoms

  • Nosebleeds
    • Irregular heart rhythm
    • Vision changes
    • Headaches
    • Buzzing in the ears

If the extent of hypertension that you have is more severe, you may also experience the following:

  • Nausea
    • Fatigue
    • Anxiety
    • Vomiting
    • Muscle tremors
    • Chest pain

Aside from the various manifestations, it can also cause catastrophic damage to your other organs such as the heart, eyes, kidneys, and brain.

1. Heart Attack and Heart Disease

HTN makes your arteries less flexible which may cause a decrease in the blood and oxygen flow to your heart. This situation leads to heart diseases. Additionally, decreased blood flow may also contribute to the following:

  • Heart attack– The blockage of blood supply causes excellent damage to your heart. It is because the oxygen does not also reach the organ. Without adequate oxygen, the cardiac muscle begins to perish. The longer the time there is a restriction of your blood flow, the more damage the heart suffers.
    • Heart failure– It is a disorder in which your heart becomes unable to pump adequate blood and oxygen to your other organs.

2. Chest pain (angina)

  • Stroke and brain problems

A stroke occurs when the arteries delivering oxygen and blood to the brain become blocked or rupture. During this, your brain cells may die because they become deprived of oxygen. You may also find yourself having disabilities in your speech and movement.

Another is a brain aneurysm. Your vessels become weak and bulge, forming an aneurysm. If this ruptures, it could be life-threatening.

4.  Kidney disorders

The blood vessels in your kidneys become weak and narrow, preventing the organ from functioning with efficiency.

5.  Loss of vision/blindness

The blood vessels in your eyes become thick, narrow, and torn.

6.  Death

Can hypertension be cured?

It is relevant to understand the difference between cure and treatment. The term “cure” usually refers to a complete recovery of one’s health. Treatment may not mean the absolute eradication of the disease. It only leads to your health’s improvement. HTN has no cure, but there is prevention and treatment.

A chronic illness such as hypertension is an example. Medication and maintaining or switching to a healthy lifestyle can help moderate it. But there is no cure.

Written below is a list of things that you can do and apply in your lives to ward off and mitigate HTN.

  • Cutting back on salt or sodium

As adults, you should consume no more than 2 grams of sodium per day. You should check the salt amount of packed goods found on the nutrition labels.

  • Eating a balanced diet.

Eat fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meat, and low-fat dairy products in reasonable amounts. You should avoid foods heavy in salt, sugar, or oil on a regular basis.

  • Exercising

Do not sit all day. Engage yourselves in physical activities that will allow you to sweat.

  • Limiting alcohol consumption

If you must consume alcohol, keep your consumption to the least amount.

  • Managing stress

Allow yourself to feel all emotions. Have a sound support system whom you can vent out your sentiments. Meditate and allow yourself to rest every once in a while.

  • Avoiding smoking

What food causes hypertension?

You may be conscious of your diet once you identified the effects of hypertension. Table salt, a few condiments and sauces, foods with saturated and trans-fat, fried food, fast food, canned, frozen, and processed foods all cause HTN.

·         Table salt

You may always end up looking for more salt, out of habit, in preparing your snacks and meals. It is important to remember that high salt intake is one of the causes of hypertension. Usage of it should be with much precaution. You may also opt to avoid using it and look for alternatives such as herbs and new spices.

·         Some condiments and sauces

Once you have decided to replace your salt, there is a list of condiments that you should not use as substitutes. These include soy sauce, ketchup, steak sauce, and salad dressing. Because of their high sodium content, it is the case.

·         Foods with saturated and trans fat

Even if you have HTN, you can eat healthy fats, but saturated and trans fats are not among them. Foods with saturated and trans-fat include donuts, ice cream, cakes, and margarine. BP and cholesterol are both affected by foods fried in many oils or meats with a lot of fat. You must consume low-fat dairy foods.

Reduce or cut your red meat in your diet. If you cannot resist eating one, check the labels and select the leanest cuts possible.

·         Fried food

Fried meals are high in saturated fat and sodium. Examples include chickens, French fries, crispy pata, and many more.

·         Fast food

Frozen foods cooked in high-fat oils are common in fast-food restaurants. They’re also salted often. All these increase your risk of having HTN. These include your favorite hamburger, chicken, and fries from Jollibee or McDonalds.

·         Canned, frozen, and processed foods

Most of these contain much salt to preserve the flavor through all the processes. Canned soups are significant examples. Frozen pizzas are on the list too. Sodium levels are high in frozen pizzas with thick crusts and a lot of toppings.

What is the best drink for hypertension?

You have read the foods mentioned above that pose a greater risk for HTN. It is time to turn your eyes to the different drinks that could help ease your HTN. Tomato juice, beet juice, prune juice, skim milk, and tea are the best drinks for HTN.

In this part of the article, you will be learning about the different drinks best for HTN.

·         Tomato Juice

Japanese researchers surveyed in 2019. Findings say that tomato juice helps both your diastolic and systolic pressure. Participants in the study were people with heart disease risk factors.

In the later studies, an average of one cup a day also improves the BP of pregnant women. The same goes for people suffering from stage 1 hypertension.

·         Beet Juice

The juice of both raw and cooked beets can lower BP. This finding was according to a randomized pilot research published in 2016Trusted Source. Raw beet juice had a more significant effect on BP.

·         Prune Juice

A 2010 studyTrusted Source says that prune juice is effective in lowering BP. People who ate one dosage of three prunes each day had lower BP, according to the study. There was a more significant reduction in the systolic blood pressure in people who ate six prunes per day.

·         Skim Milk

Low-fat dairy products can prevent and treat your HTN. Skim milk, belonging to the group, would be another drink best for your condition. A 2011 review concluded that your consumption of low-fat milk yielded a lower risk.

·         Tea

The effect of tea on your condition varies depending on the type. According to a 2014 study, green tea yields a more significant decrease in blood pressure. But, long-term consumption of both green and black tea also had a positive impact.

Does coffee lower blood pressure?

Caffeine is a chemical found in your coffee. There are contradicting studies about the topic. Coffee causes a brief but significant spike in your blood pressure. To some, yes, it lowers BP and poses less risk for hypertension occurrence.

According to some researchers, caffeine can block a hormone. This blocked hormone keeps your arteries open or widened. Others believe that caffeine stimulates your adrenal glands to generate extra adrenaline. A temporary increase in BP is the result. Moreover, caffeine is an example of a vasoconstrictor. It produces the same effect.

Previous studies have produced contradicting results when it comes to this topic.

In a medical review, there is a statement that blood vessels get stiffer as you age. This situation could trigger an elevation in blood pressure. According to the latest research, moderate coffee consumption may help to offset this.

In the same study, older people who consume a moderate amount of coffee have more elastic vessels. This finding is despite having HTN.

According to a 2012 study, caffeine intake has a variable influence on blood pressure. Caffeinated coffee causes a significant increase in BP. This is when compared to decaffeinated coffee.

Increased coffee intake causes a slight reduction in the incidence of hypertension in prospective cohort studies, according to 2017 prospective cohort studies.

Despite all this, there is more research conducted in the present to gain a better and single perspective about the relationship between coffee and your blood pressure.

References:

Coffee consumption and blood pressure. (n.d.) Coffee & Health. https://www.coffeeandhealth.org/topic- overview/coffee-consumption-and-blood-pressure/

11 Foods that increase blood pressure. (n.d.) Durham Nephrology. https://www.durhamnephrology.com/foods-that- increase-blood-pressure/

High blood pressure. (2021, May 18). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/about.htm

High blood pressure. (2021). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood- pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373410

Hypertension – the preventable and treatable silent killer. (2013, March 1). Centre for Health Protection. https://www.chp.gov.hk/en/features/28272.html#:~:text=Hypertension%20is%20a%20chronic%20disease,fol low%20up%2C%20usually%20for%20life.

Hypertension. (2021, August 25). World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/newsroom/fact- sheets/detail/hypertension

Iliades, C. (2009, November 18). Different types of hypertension. Everyday Health. https://www.everydayhealth.com/hypertension/understanding/types-of-hypertension.aspx

Laino, C. (2010, September 1). Coffee may combat high blood pressure. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/news/20100901/coffee-may-combat-high-blood- pressure

Lopez-Jimenez,     F.                   (2021,   June 8).     Caffeine: How   does                    it         affect             blood   pressure?      Mayo      Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/expert-answers/blood-pressure/faq- 20058543#:~:text=How%20does%20caffeine%20affect%20blood,t%20have%20high%20blood%20pressure

Treatment vs. Cure. (n.d.) Merriam Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/treatment-vs-cure- difference#:~:text=Cure%20usually%20refers%20to%20a,the%20complete%20elimination%20of%20diseas e.

Vandergriendt,       C.         (2020,         September          17).  7             Drinks for             lowering            blood           pressure.   Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/drinks-to-lower-blood-pressure

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