Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is a chronic condition that affects millions of people worldwide.
It is often called the "silent killer" because it has no symptoms, and people may not know they have it until it causes serious health complications.
What is Hypertension?
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood around the body. Hypertension occurs when this force is consistently too high, meaning that the heart is working harder than it should to pump blood through the arteries.
Blood pressure is measured in two numbers: systolic pressure (the top number) and diastolic pressure (the bottom number). A normal blood pressure reading is around 120/80 mmHg. However, a reading of 140/90 mmHg or higher is considered hypertension.1
Causes of Hypertension
There are two types of hypertension: primary hypertension and secondary hypertension.
Primary hypertension, also known as essential hypertension, is the most common type and has no identifiable cause. However, several risk factors are associated with it, such as age, family history, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, and stress.2
Secondary hypertension, on the other hand, is caused by an underlying medical condition or medication. Medical conditions that can cause secondary hypertension include kidney disease, sleep apnea, thyroid problems, and adrenal gland tumors.3
Certain medications, such as birth control pills, decongestants, and some prescription drugs, can also cause secondary hypertension.
Complications of Hypertension
If left untreated, hypertension can lead to several serious health complications, such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and vision loss.
It can also cause damage to blood vessels and organs, including the brain, heart, and kidneys, over time.7
Hypertension can be managed through lifestyle changes, medication, or a combination of both. Lifestyle changes that can help manage hypertension include:4,5,6
Eating a healthy diet that is low in sodium and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
Maintaining a healthy weight
Limiting alcohol consumption
Increase Nitric Oxide Production9
If lifestyle changes alone are not enough, medication may be prescribed to lower blood pressure.
There are several types of blood pressure-lowering medications, including diuretics, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), beta-blockers, and calcium channel blockers.8