Blood pressure
"Blood pressure" is the force with which your heart pumps blood through
the body. Occasional increases in blood pressure levels are not
Hypertension is high blood pressure. When heart beats (contracts and
relaxes) it pumps out a certain volume of blood. The maximum arterial
pressure, measured in mm Hg, determines the systolic reading and the
lowest reading of this pressure is called the diastolic pressure. It is
widely accepted that a person having a reading of a systolic pressure of
greater than/equal to 140 mm Hg and a diastolic pressure of greater
than/equal to 90 mm Hg is considered to have high blood pressure. When
such a reading is sustained over a period of time, it is diagnosed as
There are two types of hypertension. One is primary hypertension and
the other is secondary hypertension. The cause of primary hypertension
is unknown. It just happens but however, there are certain risk factors
or associations such as hereditary factors, race, age, environmental
and life-style factors (where you live, salt and other chemicals,
weight, stress, alcohol, lack of exercise). The difference between
primary and secondary hypertension is that we know the causes of
secondary hypertension. Usually, the causes of secondary hypertension
include renal artery stenosis (or other cause of increased plasma
renin), renal parenchymal disease (glomerulonephritis, diabetic
nephropathy, polycystic disease, obstructive uropathy), drugs (oral
contraceptives, steroids), and increased levels of catecholamines
(pheochromocytoma), glucocorticoids (Cushing\'s disease), or
Hypertension is referred to as "the silent killer" since those afflicted
seem to experience few, if any, symptoms. However, hypertension may be
associated with fatigue, headaches, lightheadedness, chest pains, visual
and speech disturbances, shortness of breath, and nose bleeds.
We do not know what causes "essential" hypertension but we have proof
that there are many factors associated with its development, such as
age, race, and family history. Many of these cannot be controlled or
prevented; however, weight, diet, and life-style can be controlled to a
great extent, and their control may help prevent or reduce your high
blood pressure. Hypertension is controllable and one of the simplest
treatment is taking medication. There are a wide variety of medication
available for patients. Diuretics, beta blockers, calcium channel
blockers, ACE inhibitors, alpha blockers, central agents, and
vasodilators are just some drugs used to treat high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is dangerous because if it is not treated and
controlled it can damage important organs of the body: the heart, brain,
kidneys, and eyes. When blood pressure remains abnormally high for a
long time, usually years, the increased force against the walls of the
arteries causes them to become thicker and crooked, decreasing the flow
of blood to the heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes. Cardiovascular
disease is the NO. 1 cause of death. Death rates are higher when high
blood pressure is also present and even higher when the high blood
pressure is associated with other risk factors such as cigarette smoking
and high blood cholesterol.
Target Organs
Heart - enlargement of the heart and increased hardening, thickening,
and blockage of the coronary arteries. These changes can lead to chest
pain, heart attacks, heart failure, and irregular heartbeats.
Brain- high blood pressure is the most common cause of strokes, which
also called cerebrocascular accidents (CVAs). Strokes are usually the
result of a clot in a blood vessel or a bursting of a blood vessel in
the brain. This cuts off the supply of oxygen and nutrients, so that a
portion of the brain gets sick and dies.
Kidneys - your kidneys filter waste substances out of the blood into the
urine. if your kidneys do not function properly, these waste substances
build up in the blood and, beyond a certain level, begin to poison your
body. As in the heart, the blood vessels in your kidneys can become
hardened and thickened as a result of high blood pressure, and they
cannot carry enough blood to nourish these organs and aid in eliminating
waste. The result is kidney renal failure.
Eyes- long-standing high blood pressure can cause serious eye problems,
such as bleeding or clots in the small eye vessels or tearing away of
the lining of the inner eye.