How to Manage Hypertension?

a woman holding her head due to tension

Hypertension

Most people dealing with high blood pressure will need lifelong treatment to help clear or delay any serious health problems brought on by the condition.

The blood pressure (BP) is measured in millimeters of mercury, which is abbreviated as mm Hg. There are two things involved in this measurement:

  • Systolic blood pressure 
  • Diastolic blood pressure

Your BP depends on how much blood the heart is pumping, and how much resistance there is to blood flow in your arteries. The thinner your arteries, the more your blood pressure will be.

Treatment for adults is usually keeping the blood pressure levels below 130/80mmHg. 

​​What are the symptoms of hypertension?

Hypertension is a very silent condition. Many people don't even show any symptoms which may be attributed to other issues. Severe hypertension symptoms include:

  • flushing
  • blood spots in the eyes (subconjunctival hemorrhage)
  • dizziness

According to the American Heart Association, severe hypertension doesn’t typically cause nosebleeds or headaches — except when someone is in hypertensive crisis.

If you have a family history of heart disease or have any risk factors for developing this condition, your doctor may recommend that you have your blood pressure checked twice or thrice a year. This way your doctor stays on the priority of any possible issues before they become problematic.

Causes of Hypertension

There are two types of hypertension and each of them has a different cause.

Essential (primary) hypertension

Essential hypertension is also called primary hypertension. This kind of hypertension develops over time. Most people deal with this type of hypertension.

A combination of certain factors typically play a crucial role in the development of essential hypertension:

  • Genes: Some people are genetically predisposed to hypertension. This may be from genetic abnormalities or gene mutations inherited from your parents.
  • Age: Individuals who are over 65 years old are more at risk for hypertension.
  • Race: Black non-Hispanic individuals have a higher incidence of hypertension.
  • Living with obesity: Living with obesity can lead to a few cardiac issues, including high blood pressure.
  • High alcohol consumption: People who habitually have more than alcohol consumption per day, maybe at an increased risk for hypertension.
  • Living a very sedentary lifestyle: lowered levels of fitness have been connected to high blood pressure.
  • Living with diabetes or metabolic syndrome: Individuals diagnosed with either diabetes or metabolic syndrome are at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure.
  • High sodium intake: There’s a small link between daily high sodium intake (more than 1.5g a day) and hypertension.

Secondary hypertension

Secondary hypertension often occurs more quickly and can be more severe than primary hypertension. Various conditions that can cause secondary hypertension include:

  • kidney disease
  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • congenital heart defects
  • problems with your thyroid
  • side effects of medications
  • use of illegal drugs
  • chronic consumption of alcohol
  • adrenal gland problems
  • certain endocrine tumours

Treatment options for high blood pressure

There are a number of factors that help your doctor determine the best treatment for you. These factors include which type of hypertension you are dealing with and what causes have been recognized.

Primary hypertension treatment options

If your doctor diagnoses you with primary hypertension, certain lifestyle changes may help reduce your high blood pressure. If lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough, or if they aren't being effective, your doctor may prescribe medication.

Secondary hypertension treatment options

If your doctor identifies an underlying issue causing your hypertension, treatment will focus on that particular condition. 

Sometimes, hypertension is continuing despite treatment for the underlying cause. In this case, your doctor may work with you to develop lifestyle changes and prescribe some medications to help reduce your blood pressure.

Treatment plans for hypertension often evolve. What worked initially may become less useful over time. 

Who is at risk for high blood pressure?

High blood pressure can be developed by anyone, but there are a few factors that can increase your risk:

  • Age - Blood pressure likely to rise with age
  • Race/Ethnicity - High blood pressure is very common in African American adults
  • Weight - People who are overweight are more likely to develop high blood pressure.
  • Gender - Before age 55, men are more likely to develop hypertension than women.
  • Lifestyle - Certain daily habits can raise your risk for high blood pressure, such as eating too much sodium or not enough potassium, lack of exercise, drinking too much alcohol, and smoking.
  • Family history - There is a risk of developing high blood pressure if you have a family history of it.

How can I prevent high blood pressure?

You can help prevent high blood pressure by having a healthy lifestyle which means:

  • Eating a healthy diet. To manage your blood pressure, you should limit the amount of salt that you eat and increase the amount of potassium in your diet. It is very important to eat foods that are lower in fat, as well as plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
  • Get regular exercise. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight and in turn lower your blood pressure. You should try to get moderate-intensity aerobic exercise at least 3 hours per week, or vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise for 1 hour and 30 minutes per week. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, or any exercise in which your heart beats harder and you use more oxygen than usual.
  • Being at a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk for hypertension. Maintaining a healthy weight can help you control high blood pressure and reduce your risk for other health problems too.
  • Limiting alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure levels. It also provides extra calories, which may cause sudden weight gain. 
  • Not smoking. Smoking Cigarette increases your blood pressure and puts you at higher risk for stroke and heart attack. Talk to your doctor for help in finding the best way for you to quit smoking.
  • Managing stress. Knowing how to relax and manage stress can help you improve emotional and physical health and lower high blood pressure. Some stress management techniques include focusing on something calm or peaceful, listening to music, exercising, and meditating.

Take Away

If you already have high blood pressure, it is important to prevent it from getting worse or causing any kind of complications. You should get regular medical care and follow your prescribed treatment medication plan and healthy lifestyle habits.