Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is a condition where the force of the blood against the walls of the arteries is consistently too high. Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The higher the blood pressure, the harder the heart has to work to pump blood throughout the body.
There are two primary types of hypertension:
- Primary (essential) hypertension: This type of hypertension develops over time with no identifiable cause. It’s the most common type and tends to develop gradually over many years.
- Secondary hypertension: This type results from an underlying condition, such as kidney disease, hormonal disorders, or certain medications. It usually appears suddenly and causes higher blood pressure than primary hypertension.
Risk factors for hypertension include:
- Age: Risk increases with age.
- Family history: Hypertension tends to run in families.
- Being overweight or obese.
- Lack of physical activity.
- Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
- High salt intake.
- Chronic stress.
- Certain chronic conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, and sleep apnea.
Complications of untreated or poorly controlled hypertension can be severe and include heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, vision loss, and metabolic syndrome.
Treatment typically involves lifestyle changes and medications. Lifestyle changes include maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, a balanced diet low in sodium and high in fruits and vegetables, limiting alcohol intake, quitting smoking, and managing stress. Medications, such as diuretics, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and others, may be prescribed depending on the severity and underlying causes of hypertension.
Regular monitoring of blood pressure and adherence to treatment plans are crucial in managing hypertension effectively and reducing the risk of complications. It’s essential for individuals with hypertension to work closely with healthcare professionals to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to their specific needs and circumstances.
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