We are living in very stressful times but it’s important to remember that stress can affect your health in potentially dangerous ways. Stress is one important factor that leads to high blood pressure.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, happens when your blood pressure increases to abnormally high levels. Your blood pressure measurement determines how much blood is passing through your blood vessels and the amount of resistance the blood meets while the heart is pumping.
High blood pressure doesn’t develop instantly, it develops over time. It can cause damage to your blood vessels and other organs including the brain, heart, eyes and kidneys.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
Although symptoms are not easily detected, for severe cases the symptoms do include headaches, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, flushing, dizziness, chest pain, visual changes and blood in the urine.
These symptoms require immediate medical attention. They don’t occur in everyone with high blood pressure, but waiting for a symptom of this condition to appear could be fatal.
What causes high blood pressure?
• Genes: High blood pressure can be inherited from your parents or other family members.
• Physical changes: If your body has physical changes this can cause high blood pressure, for example, changes in kidney function due to aging.
• Environment: This is to do with lifestyle choices, for example, a lack of physical exercise and poor diet.
Secondary hypertension, which refers to underlying issues which cause hypertension, often occurs quickly and can become more severe than primary hypertension. Several conditions that may cause secondary hypertension include:
• kidney disease
• obstructive sleep apnoea
• congenital heart defects
• problems with your thyroid
• side effects of medications
• use of illegal drugs
• alcohol abuse or chronic use
• adrenal gland problems
• certain endocrine tumours
How does high blood pressure affect the body?
• Damaged arteries: High blood pressure makes arteries tougher, tighter, and less elastic. This damage makes it easier for dietary fats to deposit in your arteries and restrict blood flow. This damage can lead to increased blood pressure, blockages and, eventually, heart attacks and strokes.
• Damaged heart: High blood pressure causes your heart to work overtime. This can cause an enlarged heart, because the heart muscles are pumping more blood. It can also lead to heart failure, arrhythmias and heart attacks.
• Damaged brain: High blood pressure can reduce your brain’s supply of blood. This can cause a stroke. It can affect your memory and ability to learn, speak and reason.
How can you treat high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is not a death sentence and there a many measures you can take in order to treat this chronic illness.
• Do physical exercise: As much as some of us dread running or physical exercise, it is still so vital and beneficial for our health in all aspects, in this case for high blood pressure – be sure to stay fit.
• Reaching a healthy weight: If you are overweight or obese, losing weight through a heart-healthy diet and increased physical activity can help lower your blood pressure.
• Managing stress: You have to be aware of what your stress triggers are and balance your time in order to avoid stress.
• Adopting a healthier lifestyle: If you’re a smoker, try to quit. The chemicals in tobacco smoke damage the body’s tissues and harden blood vessel walls. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol can raise blood pressure.
• Take appropriate medication prescribed by your doctor.
What can you do to prevent high blood pressure?
Prevention is always better than cure. There are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t battle with high blood pressure in the future.
• Add healthy foods to your diet.
• Reduce your salt intake. Eating a diet that is high in salt will increase your chances of developing high blood pressure.
• Set weight loss goals if you are overweight. Talk to your doctor about a healthy weight loss goal, then decide how you will reach that goal.
• Monitor your blood pressure regularly. Most pharmacies offer blood pressure screenings at reasonable prices.
Remember, the best way to beat high blood pressure is by taking care of your mind and body and by watching what you eat. This is not a disease that is unbeatable; you can overpower it by creating good healthy lifestyle habits.
If you enjoyed this article you might like this piece on the silent killer here.
Tell us: What do you think you can do to prevent high blood pressure?