Hypertension or high blood pressure is a very common problem these days. It is a disease that affects the body’s arteries. Having hypertension means that the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the artery is too high consistently. So, the heart is required to work harder to pump blood.

Blood pressure measurement is carried out in millimetres of mercury. High blood pressure is generally classified as hypertension when it is 130/80 or higher. Blood pressure is classified into four categories as follows:

  • Normal blood pressure
    Blood pressure is considered to be normal when it lies within the range of 120/80 mm Hg.
  • High blood pressure
    When the top number lies between 120-129 mm Hg and the bottom number is greater than 80 mm Hg.
  • Stage 1 hypertension
    When the top number lies between 130-139 mm Hg or the bottom number is greater than or equal to 90 mm Hg.
  • Stage 2 hypertension
    The number at the top is equal to, or more than 140 mm Hg and that on the bottom is equal to or more than 90 mm Hg.

If the blood pressure is more than 180/120 mm Hg, the condition is referred to as hypertensive emergency and it demands immediate medical intervention. If you or your loved one suffers from such a condition and you are located around Indore, you can visit the Department of Internal Medicine at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Indore and seek immediate medical care and attention.

If left untreated, high blood pressure puts the patient at a high risk of heart attack, stroke, and other life-threatening medical conditions. It is vital to get your blood pressure checked every two years or so to make sure that you don’t have the disease.

High blood pressure can be controlled and kept in check with healthy lifestyle modifications including exercising more frequently, following a healthy diet, and quitting smoking and alcohol. However, in most cases, medications are required to keep it in check.

Your doctor will diagnose you with one of the following two types of hypertension:

Primary or essential hypertension: It is the commonest type of high blood pressure that occur due to ageing and unhealthy lifestyle habits like lack of adequate exercise.

Secondary hypertension: This type of hypertension is caused by different medical problems including hormonal and kidney problems or due to a medication.

Untreated high blood pressure leads to serious health conditions including heart attack, stroke, kidney disease/failure, peripheral vascular disease, eye damage, complications during pregnancy, and vascular dementia.

Symptoms of Hypertension

Most patients with hypertension do not present with symptoms even if the blood pressure is really high. The disease can remain asymptomatic for years, therefore, it is so vital to get your blood pressure checked at regular intervals.

Some individuals with hypertension present with symptoms of headaches, shortness of breath, and nosebleeds. These symptoms, however, are not specific and occur in many other diseases. Also, they typically don’t present until hypertension has reached a life-threatening or very severe stage.

Around 10% of all pregnancies are complicated by high blood pressure. Several different types of high blood pressure can occur during pregnancy ranging from mild to serious. The types of high blood pressure that can occur during pregnancy include:

  • Gestational hypertension
    It is the type of high blood pressure that occurs in the latter part of pregnancy.
  • Chronic hypertension
    It is the type of high blood pressure that occurs before pregnancy.
  • Preeclampsia
    Preeclampsia is a dangerous condition that generally occurs in the latter half of pregnancy and causes hypertension, presence of protein in the urine and generalised swelling in the pregnant female. It can cause serious seizures and also affect other organs of the body.
  • Chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia
    Pregnant females with chronic hypertension are more susceptible to developing preeclampsia.

Your doctor will keep on checking your blood pressure regularly during prenatal appointments to make sure that everything is okay.

Screening to look for silent hypertension is a vital part of general health care. How frequently you should undergo screening depends on your age, overall health, genetic predisposition, and several other factors. Getting tested for hypertension at least once in two years, starting from the age of 18 years is normal. Older people should get it checked more frequently.

Causes of Hypertension

Blood pressure depends upon two factors - the resistance the arteries provide to the blood flow and the amount of blood pumped by the heart. The more blood the heart pumps and the narrower the arteries, the higher the blood pressure.

Risk factors

Following are some of the risk factors for high blood pressure:

  • Age
    The risk of developing hypertension increases with age. It is commoner in males until about the age of 64, while in females, it mostly develops after the age of 65 years.
  • Race
    High blood pressure is especially common in black people. It also develops at an earlier age in them.
  • Family history
    If you have a sibling, a parent, or any other family member suffering from high blood pressure, you are more likely to develop it.
  • Obesity
    Obesity can cause many changes in the kidneys, blood vessels, and other body parts. All these changes lead to an increase in blood pressure. Being obese also increases your risk of developing heart disease or its risk factors such as high cholesterol.
  • Lack of exercise
    Lack of adequate physical activity or following a sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain. This increased weight in turn increases the chances of developing hypertension.
  • Tobacco use
    Vaping, chewing tobacco, or smoking increases blood pressure immediately for a short while.
  • Excessive salt intake
    Consuming an excess amount of salt makes the body retain huge amounts of fluids, thus increasing the blood pressure.
  • Low potassium levels
    Potassium is vital to help balance the salt amount in the cells of the body, therefore, its proper balance is indispensable for good heart health. Certain heart conditions, lack of potassium in the diet, and dehydration can lead to low potassium levels.
  • Excessive intake of alcohol
    Alcohol is believed to contribute to hypertension, especially in males.
  • Stress
    Hypertension can temporarily occur due to high-stress levels and the level is increased further due to stress-related habits including drinking alcoholic beverages, using tobacco, and eating more than usual.
  • Certain chronic conditions
    Chronic conditions like sleep apnea, diabetes, and kidney disease can cause high blood pressure.
  • Pregnancy
    Pregnancy can sometimes contribute to hypertension.

Although hypertension is more common in adult individuals, kids sometimes can also have the condition when there is a problem with the heart or the kidneys. However, for a large number of kids, hypertension is mainly due to poor lifestyle habits including unhealthy meals, sedentary lifestyle, and lack of physical activity.

The increased amount of pressure that hypertension exerts on the arterial walls can damage them and even adversely affect other body organs. The higher the degree of hypertension and the longer it is left untreated, the more is the damage.

Many complications can occur due to high blood pressure including:

    Stroke or heart attack
    Hardening and thickening of the arteries because of hypertension or other factors can lead to stroke, heart attack, or other serious complications. Aneurysm
    Hypertension can cause bulging and weakening of the blood vessel walls, forming an aneurysm. Its rupture can be life-threatening. Heart failure
    Having hypertension means that your heart has to work harder to pump blood. This results in thickening of the walls of the pumping chamber of the heart, which causes a condition called left ventricular hypertrophy. After some time, the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the requirements of the whole body, leading to heart failure. Kidney problems
    Hypertension can weaken the kidneys and damage them. Eye problems
    High blood pressure can result in narrowing, thickening, or tearing of the blood vessels of the eyes, resulting in loss of vision. Metabolic syndrome
    This syndrome is a combination of disorders of metabolism. It is characterised by the abnormal breakdown of glucose or sugar and includes increased waist size, high triglycerides, and high blood sugar levels. All these factors contribute to developing strokes, heart diseases, and diabetes. Changes with understanding or memory
    Uncontrolled high blood pressure can affect your ability to think, learn, and remember. Dementia
    Obstructed or narrowed arteries can limit the blood flow to vital organs like the brain, resulting in a certain type of dementia referred to as vascular dementia.

If your doctor has diagnosed you with hypertension, they will suggest your recommended blood pressure goal or target, this may include:

  • Get your blood pressure checked regularly at home with a home blood pressure monitor.
  • Consume healthy foods that contain a low amount of salt and fat.
  • Maintain and achieve your ideal body weight.
  • Say No to alcohol.
  • Indulge in more physical activity.
  • Quit using tobacco products and smoking.
  • Work on managing your stress and anger issues.

You should consume foods that contain lower amounts of salt, fat, and calories, including fresh fruits and vegetables, skimmed or milk, and whole-grain pasta and rice. Use spices, flavouring agents and herbs to enhance the taste of foods without using excessive amounts of salt. Having less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day in your diet is ideally recommended. Avoid taking foods that contain high quantities of fat or salt, including regular salad dressings, butter and margarine, fatty meats, fried foods, processed foods, salted snacks, and fast foods.

Ask your doctor if you need to increase the amount of potassium in your diet. Some diets emphasise on adding whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to your diet while decreasing the amount of sodium.

If you have primary hypertension, you’ll require to manage it lifelong.

If you have secondary hypertension, your blood pressure will most likely decrease after you receive treatment for the medical condition causing it. If your high blood pressure occurs due to a medication, you can switch to a different medicine that may lower your blood pressure.

If high blood pressure is left untreated, it can lead to serious complications as mentioned above. However, if you regularly take the medications that your healthcare provider recommended, you can manage your blood pressure successfully in the long term. Eating healthy foods and exercising regularly also helps lower your blood pressure.

If healthy diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle modifications don’t work to lower your blood pressure, your doctor will prescribe some medicines to help lower your blood pressure. He will take into account other associated health conditions that you may have, including kidney or heart disease and other drugs you’re taking when prescribing medications for the treatment of your hypertension. Make sure to follow your doctor’s dosing directions religiously.

Following are some questions you can ask from your doctor to help yourself:

  • Can I keep consuming these medicines if I get pregnant?
  • Are there non-prescription medications or supplements that I shouldn’t take?
  • What kinds of exercise should I do?

Follow your doctor’s instructions, to manage your hypertension successfully. Ensure that you take medicines your doctor ordered as instructed. Keep consuming those even if your blood pressure numbers start to fall into the normal range. Following a healthy and heart-friendly lifestyle by consuming healthy meals, maintaining a healthy weight and performing regular physical exercise is also a great way to achieve a control over your blood pressure.

Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Indore is one of the top multi-speciality hospitals in Indore. Our hospital is recognised as a premier healthcare centre in the area, and we house a highly experienced and qualified team of medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, and allied staff. Consult the best doctors for hypertension in Indore for optimum treatment and care. Our Department of Internal Medicine is a fully equipped facility that offers comprehensive multidisciplinary care for general and preventive medicine diseases of all types of patients.