Hypertension is a condition where the pressure inside your circulatory system rises to a dangerous level. As your heart pumps blood through your body, it works a lot like any other pump. It has to maintain a certain level of pressure within the system in order to move the blood around. But when you have hypertension, the force of the blood against the arteries is too high.
And that extra pressure can lead to a lot of health problems. Luckily, there are things you can do to treat hypertension. So what causes hypertension? And what can you do to treat it?
What Causes Hypertension?
Hypertension is a very common condition and it’s one that will eventually affect nearly everyone. Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood being pumped through the veins and how narrow the veins are. As we get older, plaque builds up in the arteries, which makes them narrower and thus leads to high blood pressure.
This type of hypertension, which develops on its own over years is called “primary hypertension.” It’s the most common type of high blood pressure in adults. The other type of high blood pressure is “secondary hypertension,” which is caused as a complication of other diseases. There are a lot of different conditions that can lead to high blood pressure like sleep apnea, kidney disease, and drug addiction.
Hypertension leads to a number of health risks. The strain that high blood pressure puts on your arteries make them harder and less elastic, which elevates your risk of heart attacks and strokes. As your arteries become damaged, the normally smooth surface of the veins begins to catch additional plaque from the blood stream which can lead to blood clots. Blood clots cut off the flow of blood around the body, and if blood can’t get to or from your heart, then your cells can’t get the oxygen they need. And once your brain can’t get oxygen, you quickly lose consciousness and the cells in the brain begin to die, which leads to death.
In addition, the damage to the arteries can restrict blood flow through that section of the body. This causes the artery to bulge, which leads to an aneurysm. An aneurysm can eventually rupture, causing dangerous internal bleeding. And aneurysms in the brain are often fatal.
The real risk of hypertension is that many people who suffer from it have no idea that they have it. You can have high blood pressure for years, with it doing constant damage to your body, and still show no symptoms. So the best thing you can do is to get regular blood pressure screenings and take the necessary steps to treat and prevent hypertension.
What Can You Do To Treat It?
Prevention is by far the best way to handle hypertension. Making some basic changes can significantly reduce your risk. Some of the biggest contributing factors to hypertension are things related to lifestyle. Diet plays a major role, for instance. High levels of sodium have been shown to increase your risk of high blood pressure. Your kidneys filter out water from your diet and use the water your cells need and send the rest to your bladder to be passed as urine. But to do this, it requires a delicate balance of sodium in the blood stream.
Too much sodium triggers your kidneys to hold onto water, which causes pressure on your kidneys and other organs and raises your blood pressure.
Being overweight is also a serious risk when it comes to hypertension. The extra weight leads to higher levels of cholesterol which narrow your arteries and lead to higher blood pressure. And smoking is another risk. Smoking raises your blood pressure and can damage the lining of your arteries, which is part of what makes smoking so deadly. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to lower your risk of hypertension.
There are a few medications available to help treat hypertension if you already have the condition. Diuretics are often prescribed to help purge the body of extra water caused by high sodium levels, which can help reduce blood pressure. ACE inhibitors are another class of drug that works by reducing the amount of a specific protein that causes your arteries to harden. And calcium channel blockers help reduce the strength of your heart’s contractions, which helps reduce blood pressure.
Make sure to work closely with your doctor if you’re suffering from high blood pressure to make sure you’re getting the best treatment possible and to carefully monitor your blood pressure. That’s the best way to manage hypertension.