Hypertension: Risks And Associated Diseases
The circulation of blood, which is destined to reach all tissues and cells of the body, implies that there is some pressure on the walls of the arteries. This pressure, which is normal and even essential for blood to reach its destination, is called “blood pressure.”
There are, however, a number of factors – genetic or environmental – that can cause this pressure on the artery walls to increase in excess. We are then faced with a scenario of hypertension.
In the world, there are millions of hypertensive people. However, from this group, only:
- 50% know that they suffer from this condition;
- 25% are medicated;
- 11% has the pressure effectively controlled.
Precisely because there is such a high percentage of patients whose hypertension is not controlled or corrected, hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
What is hypertension?
Imagine that your arteries are like hoses: in a healthy state, blood flows easily through the inside, finding no obstacle along the path that travels to the cells.
However, if in these “hoses” the blood is under pressure, the heart has to work harder to circulate the blood. In these cases, the effort can cause the heart muscle mass to increase, causing the heart volume to become larger – called hypertrophy.
In a first phase, the cardiac muscle increase poses no problem. However, over time, this hypertrophy can lead to heart failure, angina pectoris or arrhythmia.
What to do?
1. Measure your blood pressure regularly
Since hypertension usually has no symptoms, monitor blood pressure levels regularly.
In the case of healthy adults, blood pressure measurement is recommended at least once a year.
On the other hand, the obese, diabetic, smoker or family history of cardiovascular disease should have a more frequent check and medical indications.
2. Practice physical activity, but avoid excessive efforts
The practice of regular physical activity can, in many cases, lead to a significant drop in tension levels. Choose exercises that include cyclic movements (such as swimming, walking, running, or dancing) and avoid sudden physical exertion (lifting weights or pushing heavy objects) that increase blood pressure during exertion.
3. Eat healthy and avoid salt.
Stop using table salt (if you still do) and substitute it with alternative seasoning such as herbs or lemon juice. Also avoid all foods that are naturally salty or have been added salt during their preparation: in the case of sausages, canned foods, prepared foods, snacks or sparkling mineral waters. Avoid alcoholic beverages and if you are overweight try to reduce it by eating a moderate diet.
What are the “maximum” and the “minimum”?
Blood pressure is quantified through two numbers.
The first and highest number refers to the pressure that the blood exerts on the walls of the arteries when the heart is pumping blood. It is the so-called systolic blood pressure – usually called “maxim”.
The second number indicates the pressure that the blood exerts on the arteries when the heart is relaxed. It is the so-called diastolic blood pressure – usually called “minimal”.
The ideal blood pressure should be less than 120/80. Above these values increases the risk of coronary heart disease or stroke.
How to measure?
- Choose a quiet place with a mild temperature
- Rest 15 minutes before measuring
- Avoid stimulants such as coffee, alcohol, or tobacco, up to 30 minutes before
- Avoid tight clothing
- Support the arm, where the measurement will be made, at heart level
- The measurement on the arm is more reliable than on the wrist
- Make 2 or 3 measurements and calculate the mean
- Write down the day, time and value obtained
First measure: Treatment without drugs
It has been proven that changing some lifestyle habits is often enough to lower blood pressure levels. This involves:
- Restrict salt;
- Eat fruits, vegetables and salads
- Practice more exercise;
- Avoid alcohol;
- Reduce stress;
- Losing weight (in case of overweight).
Second measure: Drug treatment
When drug-free treatment is not sufficient, then drugs should be used. These should be prescribed by the doctor, according to the characteristics of each patient.
Symptoms of Arterial Hypertension
Keep an eye on the signs:
- Nasal haemorrhages;
Consequences of Arterial Hypertension
1. Hypertrophy of the heart (increased volume)
- Decreased blood flow to the heart
- Angina pectoris and Coronary insufficiency
- The heart has difficulty in pumping blood to all tissues of the body
- The heart becomes more fragile, arrhythmias and heart failure arise
2. Deterioration of the artery walls
It increases the risk of atherosclerosis and thrombosis (clot formation)
In more severe cases, aneurysms and cerebral hemorrhages may occur due to weakening of the artery walls.
Hypertension and cardiovascular diseases
Hypertension is associated with both coronary disease, stroke and failure and is the most frequent modifiable cardiovascular risk factor, which is why its treatment is essential in the prevention of those diseases.
Cardiovascular diseases are the cause of death of at least 34.1% of the Portuguese population, mainly as a consequence of stroke and coronary disease.
What causes Arterial Hypertension?
About 90% of cases of hypertension are related to lifestyle habits.
Obesity is one of the important factors that could be at the origin of hypertension. Each 1/2 kg of fat requires the formation of another 1.5 km of small blood vessels to supply excess adipose tissue and increased blood pressure is required to pump the blood through them. For this reason, an excess of weight in the order of 20% or more increases the risk of hypertension by 5 times.
Excess salt consumption
Excessive salt intake is also a factor that increases the likelihood of high blood pressure. It is known that high blood pressure is less frequent in the world’s populations where salt intake is low. Our body needs only 1/8 teaspoon of salt per day.
Tobacco is another cause to consider. Even a cigarette can increase blood pressure for about 30 minutes. A smoker with 1 pack of cigarettes a day can only cause a rise in blood pressure during most of the day.
Alcohol and coffee consumption
About 5 to 15% of cases of hypertension may be related to moderate alcohol consumption. On the other hand, a cup of coffee a day can cause a rise in blood pressure.
Physical inactivity and stress are also associated with high blood pressure.
The remaining 10% of cases of hypertension have organic causes, such as some hormonal changes, diseases of the kidneys or blood vessels.
How does Arterial Hypertension manifest itself?
In the early years, high blood pressure does not cause any symptoms or signs of disease. Over the years, blood pressure has acted to injure blood vessels and major organs of the body, such as the brain, heart, and kidneys, causing signs and symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, and heart rate.
The main diseases associated with arterial hypertension are stroke, angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, atherosclerosis, heart failure and renal failure.
How is Arterial Hypertension Diagnosed?
It is important not to forget that hypertension does not feel, it is measured.
There are several equipment that can measure blood pressure, more or less automatic.
In order to obtain correct values it is important, before measuring blood pressure, to rest in the sitting position for at least 5 minutes. You should use the same device and always measure on the same arm.
The diagnosis of high blood pressure requires the measurement of high blood pressure on three different occasions over a period of one week or more.
Once hypertension is confirmed, other tests should be performed to help understand their origin and / or the complications associated with it.
How is Hypertension Treated?
The treatment of arterial hypertension depends on its severity. For example, people with moderate hypertension will be able to control it by simply changing some lifestyle habits, such as reducing salt and alcohol consumption, weight control, regular exercise and quitting smoking.
There are several medications available for the treatment of hypertension that can be used alone or in combination. It will be up to the doctor to decide the best treatment for each case.
How is hypertension prevented?
Since most cases of hypertension have their origin in lifestyle, it is important that they are healthy. All recommendations referred to in the treatment allow to prevent the onset of this disease.
WHY TREAT HYPERTENSION OR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?
High blood pressure is a risk factor with a high prevalence in the adult population, constituting an important public health problem and one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (such as Stroke) and the main cause of death and disability in our country.
It is known that there is enormous potential to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and death if hypertension is detected early and treated properly.
The strategy adopted for the treatment of hypertension depends on the risk factors of the patient.
If, in addition to hypertension, the patient suffers from other diseases or associated risk factors, such as: high cholesterol, diabetes, a smoker, being overweight or obese, if you have already had a cardiovascular event: Acute Myocardial Infarction, Stroke.
The goal of treatment for hypertension is that blood pressure values are always below 140mmHg of systolic blood pressure and 90mmHg of diastolic blood pressure. However, some patients suffering from hypertension and other associated diseases, such as diabetes, these values should be even lower and do not exceed 130mmHg of systolic blood pressure.
It is only when the hypertensive patient has the blood pressure values below those mentioned above that, in a systematic way – daily – can one be considered to have controlled hypertension.
Over the years hypertension causes injury to the blood vessels as well as to the body’s vital vital organs: the brain, the heart, the kidney.
Reducing blood pressure values also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The main diseases associated with hypertension are: stroke; Ischemic Cardiopathy (namely, Chest Angina, Acute Myocardial Infarction, Sudden Death); Cardiac insufficiency; Dissecting aortic aneurysm; Renal insufficiency.
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