In most cases, high blood pressure will not show any symptoms. In fact, you might have high blood pressure and actually feel pretty good. This is why high blood pressure is so dangerous. High blood pressure is a silent killer, so you need to check yourself. It is much better for you to protect your health with a simple test instead of risking your health by ignoring it. Unfortunately, many people with high blood pressure don’t even realize they have it. Others know they have it but fail to take medication because they don’t feel sick.
High blood pressure develops slowly and starts affecting you without you even realizing it. You need to take precautions and manage the risks if you want to live a healthier and longer life. You need to know your numbers by measuring your blood pressure. This way, you will be in a position to make the necessary adjustments before things get out of hand. Recognizing your risk factors is essential because it will help you identify the positive changes you can make. Read on to learn more about high blood pressure and how you can manage it.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
You develop high blood pressure when the heart is forced to work harder to pump blood out to the body. When blood flow meets a lot of resistance, other issues such as narrowing of the arteries occur. Narrow arteries increase resistance, and this increases your blood pressure. When the pressure persists, it may lead to health issues such as heart failure and stroke. There are two main types of hypertension, each of them has its causes.
Primary hypertension, also known as essential hypertension, develops over time and doesn’t have an identifiable cause. Most individuals have this type of high blood pressure. While the exact cause is not known, it is believed that primary hypertension is caused by a combination of factors which include:
a) Physical Changes
Sometimes, your body may experience changes that may result in you having high blood pressure. For example, if your kidney function changes due to old age, it may upset the natural balance of fluids and salts in your body, increasing your body’s blood pressure.
b) Lifestyle Change &Genetics
Your lifestyle will also determine whether you get high blood pressure or not. If you don’t engage in physical activities and you constantly choose to eat unhealthy foods, there is a high chance of you developing high blood pressure. When you start having weight problems due to poor lifestyle choices, you increase your risk of hypertension. Some people are also genetically predisposed to hypertension. If your family has a history of hypertension, you need to be more cautious because you might have inherited that gene from your parents or relatives.
You may develop secondary high blood pressure if you already suffer from other health complications. Chronic kidney disease is a common cause of hypertension because the kidney cannot filter out the fluid. Excess fluid retention leads to hypertension. Other conditions that can lead to secondary hypertension include diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and sleep apnea. Pregnancy and the use of illegal drugs could also lead to high blood pressure.
How Is High Blood Pressure Diagnosed?
The best way to treat hypertension is by getting your blood pressure checked. This should be the first step. If you don’t get your blood pressure measured, you can never know whether you are at risk or not. You can choose to measure your blood pressure on your own or go to the clinic. Usually, the blood pressure reading is taken with a pressure cuff. The doctor will place the cuff around your upper arm before inflating it either manually or electronically. Once the cuff is inflated, it compresses the brachial artery, slowly limiting the blood flow. The air in the cuff is then released slowly, allowing the doctor to monitor the electronic readout.
The blood pressure reading has two numbers, the upper and the lower number. The upper number, also called the systolic blood pressure, measures your arteries pressure when your heart is beating. The lower number, also known as the diastolic pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries in between the beats. Your blood pressure is considered normal if it is below 120/80 mm Hg. If your systolic pressure ranges from 130 to 139 mm Hg and your diastolic pressure ranges between 80 to 89 mmHg, you have Stage 1 hypertension. If your systolic pressure ranges from 140mm Hg and above and your diastolic pressure ranges from 90 mm Hg and above, you have Stage 2 hypertension.
You need to understand that blood pressure tends to fluctuate, so the doctor will need to take three or more blood pressure readings at different times before diagnosing you with high blood pressure. If the doctor determines that you have high blood pressure, they will review your medical history and conduct other examinations before recommending treatment. You may also be asked to monitor your blood pressure at home. If you do, you must invest in a validated device. Ensure that the cuff you use fits you perfectly and liaise with your doctor every once in a while.
Signs & Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a symptomless silent killer. Most people don’t experience any signs or symptoms when they have high blood pressure. It becomes very difficult for you to know when you are in danger. If you are waiting to experience specific symptoms, you may be putting your life at risk. However, it is important to note that if your blood pressure is extremely high, you may experience certain symptoms.
Blood Spots in The Eyes
A subconjunctival hemorrhage is common in people with high blood pressure. This doesn’t mean that the blood pressure causes the blood spots. If you notice that you have persistent blood spots in the eyes, you should visit an eye doctor who can detect any damage to the optic nerve caused by high blood pressure.
You need to be careful when you experience dizziness, loss of coordination, and balance. These are usually signs of a stroke, and it is important to note that high blood pressure is a leading risk factor for stroke. Sometimes, you may experience intense sweating and nervousness, which are also linked to high blood pressure. Even if you don’t experience these signs, it is important to visit the doctor and have your body checked regularly.
You may experience facial flushing, which occurs when the blood vessels in the face dilate. The blood vessels may occur either unpredictably or through external triggers such as sun exposure, wind, and spicy foods. Facial flushing can also be triggered by emotional stress, alcohol consumption, and heat, which can temporarily raise blood pressure. Please note that high blood pressure is not the cause of facial flushing.
When you have prolonged emotional turmoil, your blood pressure can rise to dangerous levels. Severe anxiety and depression can increase your chances of getting high blood pressure. Depression and anxiety can cause people to “self-medicate”. They may engage in excessive drinking, smoking, and other unhealthy lifestyle choices, which promote hypertension and other heart-related diseases. Depression that persists without treatment can also strain some of the important body organs, affecting the overall functioning of the body. It is important for you to get treatment for depression to prevent further damage.
What Happens to Your Body When You Have High Blood Pressure?
When you have high blood pressure, your body will go through some changes. Damage caused by high blood pressure tends to start small and accumulate slowly. If you go for a long time without getting treatment, the damage continues building up, which puts you at a higher risk. When your body has high blood pressure, the artery walls start getting damaged because there is a lot of resistance which limits the blood flow from the heart. The damage occurs in the form of tears. As the artery walls begin to tear, the bad cholesterol that flows through the blood starts to attach itself to the tears. This allows more and more bad cholesterol to build up in the walls, making the arteries narrower.
When blood flow becomes limited due to the narrowing of the arteries, it causes damage to the tissues and organs. It could result in irregular heartbeats and heart attacks. One of the most common effects of untreated high blood pressure is heart failure. It results from your heart becoming too weak to pump blood throughout the body. You may start experiencing swelling in the legs and abdomen, shortness of breath, and fatigue.
Natural Ways to Reduce High Blood Pressure
Be More Cautious When It Comes to Food!
If you are at risk of getting high blood pressure or already have it, you need to change your lifestyle and eating habits. First, you need to reduce your sodium intake. Many studies have linked high blood pressure with high salt intake. Many processed foods tend to have a lot of sodium in them. It would be best if you swapped processed foods with fresh produce. If you need to season your food, opt for spices and herbs as opposed to salt.
The other thing to note is that alcohol can raise your blood pressure. If you consume too much alcohol, you need to reduce your consumption or stop drinking. If you cannot give up on alcohol, try to limit it to one or two drinks a day. You are advised to eat more potassium-rich foods since they help your body eliminate sodium from your system and ease blood vessels and pressure.
The best way to balance the potassium to sodium in your diet is through eating less processed foods and more freshly produced foods. Some foods rich in potassium include nuts and seeds, dairy products, and vegetables such as leafy vegetables. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and hydrate every day.
Exercising is a good way to manage your high blood pressure. Exercising helps manage your weight, lower your stress levels and strengthen your heart. There are so many exercises that you can do. You don’t have to be a fitness enthusiast. If you prefer other forms of exercise such as yoga and swimming, you can still do them. You can also take a walk every single day. Doing this will improve your general well-being and make you stronger. It is important that you do a physical activity that you enjoy to ensure you always exercise.
Smoking is closely linked to heart disease. It prevents you from being able to manage your high blood pressure because it can cause an increase in your blood pressure. The chemicals present in tobacco are known to damage the blood vessels. You also need to quit smoking if you want to manage high blood pressure. Find a counselor or go for rehabilitation if you can’t quit on your own.
It is important to note that stress is a key driver of high blood pressure. When you are always stressed, your body responds through increased heart rate and constricted blood vessels. You need to control the triggers of stress in your life to improve your well-being. Stress management is a key factor. Failure to manage it often results in harmful behavior such as drinking alcohol and smoking. Some ways to reduce stress include meditation, listening to soothing music, taking a nature walk, and working less. Engage in activities that make you happy and relaxed. It would be best if you avoided chronic stress because it contributes to high blood pressure.
High blood pressure can take a toll on your general well-being. It would help if you got your blood pressure measured to know whether you are at risk or not. If you are at risk of getting high blood pressure, you don’t need to lose hope. You can change your lifestyle, take medication and supplements to help manage high blood pressure, and improve your quality of life.