High blood pressure or hypertension is a term used to refer to blood pressure that is higher than normal.
High blood pressure or hypertension is a term used to refer to blood pressure that is higher than normal. As you go through your day, your blood pressure keeps changing according to the activities you are doing. High blood pressure can have long-term effects on your body and health. It makes you more susceptible to some serious diseases and makes you lead a poor quality of life. Read on to find out more about high blood pressure symptoms and how to reduce high blood pressure.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
High Blood Pressure is the force (pressure) of blood pushing against your artery walls. If a person has high blood pressure, it means that the pressure in their arteries is higher than it should be. A person can have hypertension and not know it. High blood pressure takes many years to fully develop and if you do not notice any major signs or symptoms, it keeps damaging your body. Also known as the “silent killer”, high blood pressure increases the workload of your heart and blood vessels. If this remains unchecked and undiagnosed, hypertension can do lasting damage to your artery walls. Slowly but steadily, bad cholesterol plaques run up on these damaged walls, resulting in even narrower arteries that lead to higher blood pressure and cardiac damage.
Effects Of High Blood Pressure On Body
• Damage To The Heart
i) Coronary Artery Disease – Due to high blood pressure, arteries get narrowed and damaged. This can make supplying blood to the heart even more difficult. When there is too little blood flow to the heart, it can lead to chest pain (angina), arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), or a heart attack.
ii) Enlarged Left Heart – Due to high blood pressure, the heart has to work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body. This results in the thickening of the lower left chamber (left ventricle). This thickening of the left ventricle can then lead to heart attack, heart failure, and sudden cardiac death.
iii) Heart Failure – Due to high blood pressure, the heart and its arteries have to work extra hard. When this goes on for too long, it can cause the muscles in your heart to weaken and work less. The frail heart muscles eventually fail.
• Damage To Arteries
i) Narrowed/Damaged Arteries – Healthy arteries are usually flexible and strong. Due to high blood pressure, the cells of these arteries can get damaged. Fats from diets can collect in damaged arteries. This can make the artery walls less elastic, less flexible, and less strong, thus restricting smooth blood flow throughout the body.
ii) Aneurysm – The continuous pressure of blood flow through a weakened artery can cause a section of the artery wall to enlarge and form a bulge. This is called an Aneurysm and when ruptured it can cause acute internal bleeding.
• Damage To Brain
i) Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) – Commonly known as a ministroke, TIA is a temporary disruption of blood supply to the brain. Mainly caused by hardened arteries or blood clots, Transient Ischemic Attack is a warning sign of a full-blown stroke.
ii) Stroke – A stroke occurs when a part of the brain doesn’t get enough nutrients and oxygen for its brain cells. Due to high blood pressure, blood vessels may rupture, leak or narrow, causing blood clots in arteries leading to the brain. It blocks the blood flow and leads to a stroke.
iii) Dementia – Due to high blood pressure, arteries narrow and get damaged. This interrupts and limits the blood flow to the brain, which can then cause vascular dementia.
• Damage To Kidneys
i) Kidney Scarring – Kidney Scarring or glomerulosclerosis occurs when the blood vessels present inside the kidney become scarred and are then unable to filter out waste from our blood. This can further lead to kidney failure.
ii)Kidney Failure – Due to high blood pressure, blood vessels get damaged and prevent kidneys from filtering out waste and fluid from our blood. This waste remains in our blood and gets collected. A kidney failure is treated by dialysis or kidney transplantation.
• Damage To Eyes
i) Retinopathy – Due to high blood pressure, damaged blood vessels present at the back of your eye, blurred vision, loss of vision or bleeding in the eye can occur.
ii) Optic Neuropathy – High blood pressure can also lead to Optic Neuropathy that results in bleeding within the eye or vision loss.
iii) Choroidopathy – High blood pressure can lead to Choroidopathy in which blocked flows of blood can lead to impaired or distorted vision.
• Sexual Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is more likely in men with high blood pressure as it limits blood flow to the penis. A decrease in proper blood flow to the vagina can also result in a decreased sexual desire or arousement, along with vaginal dryness and difficulties while trying to orgasm.
Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure
The symptoms of hypertension or high blood pressure are as follows:-
iv) Blurry/Double vision
vi) Heart palpitations
vii) Shortness of breath
viii) Nausea and/or vomiting
ix) Chest pain
x) Trouble while sleeping
xi) Facial flushing
xii) Extreme sweating
xiii) Blood spots in eyes
xiv) Irregular heartbeat
xv) Pounding in chest, neck or ears
High Blood Pressure Treatment
The treatment of high blood pressure requires major lifestyle changes and medication. Patients with high blood pressure are often prescribed ACE inhibitors, Beta Blockers, Alpha Blockers, vasodilators and diuretics. Kindly discuss with your doctor before taking such medication.
How To Reduce High Blood Pressure?
• Lifestyle Changes
i) Avoid or limit smoking.
ii) Learn stress management.
iii) Avoid or limit alcohol consumption.
iv) Begin a heart-healthy diet with low salt consumption.
v) Exercise every day.
• Foods To Avoid With High Blood Pressure
i) Red Meat
ii) Salt (Sodium)
iii) Foods and drinks with added sugar
iv) Fatty meats and palm oil
v) sugar-sweetened beverages
vi) Pizza, sandwiches, soup, burrito, nachos