Hypertension is also known as high blood pressure, means high pressure (tension) in the arteries. Hypertension may have no known cause or be associated with other primary diseases. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, impaired vision, and kidney disease. Generally, the higher the blood pressure, the greater the risk. Untreated hypertension affects all organ systems and can shorten one as life expectancy by 10 to 20 years. Almost 60 million Americans age 6 and older have high blood pressure. That means about one in five Americans has the condition. Because a third to a half of the people who have high blood pressure don’t even know it, doctors are careful to check their patients for hypertension regularly.
High blood pressure is particularly common among blacks, often developing at an earlier age than it does in whites. Serious complications, such as stroke and heart attack, also are more common in blacks. Blood vessel damage is bad because hardened or narrowed arteries may be unable to supply the amount of blood the body’s organs need. The higher artery pressure may lead to atherosclerosis, in which deposits of cholesterol, fatty substances, and blood cells clog up an artery. Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of heart attacks. It can also cause strokes.
The list of possible underlying conditions mentioned in various sources as possible causes of high blood pressure includes:
* Gestational hyper tension which occurring during pregnancy.
* Sleep apnea
* Aortic valve condition
* Kidney disease
* Cushing’s disease
* Certain medications
People with primary (essential) high blood pressure usually do not have any symptoms. People with severe high blood pressure or a rapid rise in blood pressure may also experience headaches, blurred or impaired vision, fits or black-outs. Symptoms include weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath (dyspnea), dizziness, and fainting spells with exertion. Swelling in the ankles or legs (edema), bluish lips and skin (cyanosis), and chest pain (angina) are other symptoms of the disease.
Most of the risk factors for primary hypertension are preventable, and lifestyle modification may prevent as well as treat the condition. Secondary hypertension can be managed by treating the underlying cause. Individuals in the high normal and stage 1 hypertension categories should attempt to lower blood pressure through diet and lifestyle changes before going on a regimen of medications.
Some of the most commonly used medications to treat high blood pressure include:
* Beta blockers
* ACE (angiotensin-coverting enzyme) inhibitors
* Calcium channel blockers
* Alpha-beta blockers
Some people may only need lifestyle changes to control their high blood pressure, while others need medication as well. Either way, treating high blood pressure usually is a lifelong process.