Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is a medical condition where the force of blood against the walls of the arteries is consistently too high. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and typically recorded as two numbers:

  1. Systolic pressure: The top number, representing the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats and pumps blood.
  2. Diastolic pressure: The bottom number, representing the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest between beats.

Normal blood pressure is usually considered to be around 120/80 mmHg. Hypertension is diagnosed when blood pressure consistently measures 130/80 mmHg or higher.

There are two main types of hypertension:

  1. Primary (essential) hypertension: This is the most common type and develops gradually over time with no identifiable cause. It tends to develop gradually over many years.
  2. Secondary hypertension: This type is caused by an underlying condition, such as kidney disease, hormonal disorders, or certain medications.

Risk factors for hypertension include:

  • Age (risk increases with age)
  • Family history of hypertension
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Poor diet, especially one high in salt
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Chronic stress

Hypertension is often called a “silent killer” because it usually has no symptoms in its early stages. However, over time, if left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and vision loss.

Treatment for hypertension typically involves lifestyle changes and, if necessary, medication. Lifestyle changes may include:

  • Adopting a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products
  • Reducing sodium intake
  • Increasing physical activity
  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Quitting smoking
  • Managing stress

Medications for hypertension may include diuretics, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, or a combination of these.

Regular monitoring of blood pressure is essential for managing hypertension and reducing the risk of complications. People with hypertension should work closely with their healthcare provider to develop a personalized treatment plan.

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