High blood pressure – causes, symptoms, and how to measure it correctly



High blood pressure – causes, symptoms, and how to measure it correctly

Hypertension affects approximately 30% of middle-aged people and over 60% of people of retirement age. Every third adult in Bulgaria suffers from high blood pressure, which puts them at risk of complications, some of which are potentially life-threatening. Even if it doesn’t result in the most serious complications – stroke, heart attack, aneurysm, and others, maintaining high blood pressure is undesirable because of the damages it can cause to the blood vessels and important organs such as the heart and kidneys. Therefore, identifying the causes of hypertension, recognizing the symptoms of the disease, and consulting a doctor in order to control the blood pressure and keep it within normal levels are essential to good health.

Causes of high blood pressure

The causes of hypertension can be both bad habits and an unhealthy lifestyle, as well as stress or the presence of certain diseases. Conditions that may cause hypertension include diabetes, kidney disease, hormonal problems, and systemic diseases. In such instances, the condition is secondary hypertension caused by another disease. Control and treatment of the underlying disease have beneficial effects on maintaining normal blood pressure.

The intake of certain medications and herbs also leads to high blood pressure. In these instances, cutting them out allows for blood pressure levels to return to normal.

Other causes of hypertension are due to an unhealthy lifestyle or heredity. Some of them are:

  • Poor diet consisting of foods rich in fat and sugar instead of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. This leads to weight gain, and excess weight itself leads to high blood pressure;
  • Excessive intake of salt;
  • Sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise and sports, which lead to vascular dystonia. Physical activity reduces peripheral vascular resistance and is a way of keeping blood pressure in a healthy range. People leading an active and healthy lifestyle are 50% less at risk of hypertension;
  • Bad habits – alcohol consumption, smoking;
  • Chronic stress, which causes an increase in serum adrenaline, or norepinephrine. Constant stress over a prolonged period of time inevitably leads to high blood pressure;
  • Family members with high blood pressure – heredity. Biological inheritance is not enough in itself. The combination of hereditary factors with environmental factors together is a cause of hypertension.

Symptoms of high blood pressure

The symptoms of high blood pressure are non-specific and are characteristic of a number of other diseases. Recognizing them and consulting a doctor in order to start treatment is of paramount importance to preventing complications of the disease.

Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, headache, vertigo, blurred vision, dizziness, nosebleeds. If one or more of these symptoms occur regularly, medical examination and taking blood pressure several times a day are mandatory in order to identify the causes and whether they are due to it.

Many patients with high blood pressure have no symptoms and the disease is detected by accident – during a routine checkup. This makes prophylactic blood pressure measurement important for diagnosing hypertension.

Correct measurement of blood pressure

Blood pressure control, correct measurement, and monitoring are essential for the diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of hypertension. In the absence of complaints, risk factors, symptoms, and heredity, prophylactic measurement when visiting your general practitioner 2-3 times a year is usually sufficient.

If risk factors and symptoms are present, control at home is also necessary, in addition to the measurement at the doctor’s office. Measuring blood pressure at home is a task that almost anyone can handle if they know how. According to the World Health Organization’s guidelines, blood pressure is measured with the person being still, after a short 5-minute rest, as well as no earlier than 2 hours after drinking coffee, intense exercise, or a large meal. All of these can lead to falsely high blood pressure. During measuring, the arm on which the device is placed should be supported on a flat surface at heart level, and the body should be relaxed, without any tension. Initially, the measurement is performed on both hands. If there is a significant difference in the readings, each subsequent measurement should be performed on the hand that showed higher values. The device used to measure blood pressure at home must be of good quality and calibrated every 6 months to ensure its accuracy.

Blood pressure control is feasible and possible. Thanks to it, the serious consequences of the disease can be prevented.

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