My husband has a very calm and positive nature. I may get frustrated or annoyed, but he is the one who remains unruffled even during stressful situations. But for a few days, I observed that he seemed somewhat stressed and irritated. I attributed it to work overload or lack of proper sleep. He even screamed at us on one or two occasions though the matter didn’t require such reaction!
I got worried as I knew something was not normal with his health. That evening, I just casually checked his blood pressure and I was astounded to see high readings of the B.P apparatus. I checked again for alternate days and the results were the same!
We had a family history of Hypertension, but I never thought that we could also fall in the same category at a much younger age.
I cannot just let him suffer from hypertension and have beta-blockers ( bp controlling medications)for all his life. Hypertension can be a risk factor for a lot of other serious illnesses such as kidney failures, heart attacks, or stroke.
I explored a lot and interacted with fellow healthcare specialists to cure the problem or to stabilize the high bp without any medications. All it needs is a healthy lifestyle including diet, exercise, and regular health monitoring.
High blood pressure or hypertension comes with almost no specific symptoms. That’s why it often goes unnoticed and the person only comes to know about it only when it has already caused greater damages such as heart diseases or hemorrhages. In such situations, one has to take medications all over his life.
However, if the problem is diagnosed at earlier stages, irreversible effects can be avoided. To sense any blood pressure issues, you need a regular BP checkup especially if hypertension already exists in your family.
Hypertension can be hard to perceive as there is a very thin line of difference between normal vs initial stages of hypertension. If you are aware of the symptoms of hypertension, you can be more cautious. Let’s learn about these symptoms in detail.
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What is High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the measurement of blood flowing through the arteries and the obstruction faced by the blood while the heart pumps the blood. The narrower your blood vessels, the more resistance will they cause to the blood flow and the higher will be the blood pressure.
Your health professional may ask you to record your blood pressure readings over a week and if it stays elevated consistently, your doctor may advise you to undergo some tests to rule out any other cause for high blood pressure. Stressful conditions, depression, change of place, or any physical trauma may also lead to elevated blood pressure readings.
But if any other underlying condition is ruled out and still your blood pressure comes high, your health professional may prescribe you treatment as then you are diagnosed with Hypertension.
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How to Read Blood Pressure
2 numbers depict your blood pressure.
- Systolic pressure ( first/top number )
It is the reading of the pressure in your arteries when your heart pumps out the blood. The heart beats every time it pumps out blood.
- Diastolic pressure ( second/bottom number )
It indicates the pressure in your arteries between 2 successive heartbeats.
The Healthy blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mm Hg( millimeters of Mercury). The reading between 120 – 129 and 80 – 89 is termed Elevated blood pressure. It is often treated with lifestyle changes and no medication is required.
However, the average blood pressure ranges are different for kids and adults.
Any reading of systolic and diastolic pressure above the upper mentioned limits is considered Hypertension where medication is often required.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
#1. Severe Headaches
Severe headaches are very common among people especially with people having migraines.
But a hypertensive person may also experience headaches of throbbing nature, if the medication is skipped or if the blood pressure is higher than usual readings.
Most of the time, hypertension is diagnosed only when a person seeks advice for pertaining headaches.
#2. Shortness of Breath
Hypertension can cause difficulty in breathing as it also affects the proper functioning of the Lungs and Heart.
The blood vessels of the lungs get narrowed which exerts more resistance to the blood flow. Therefore the blood flow gets reduced and blood pressure rises.
Now the heart needs to work more to pump blood through the lungs ( Pulmonary Hypertension) and oxygen supply is also slowed.
When the Heart and Lungs are performing against high resistance to blood flow, the body gets fatigued and experiences shortness of breath.
Shortness of breath is easily noticeable when you do any physical exertion such as climbing stairs or exercise.
#3. Vision Problems and Dizziness
Vision disturbances such as blurred vision, or sometimes Blood spots may appear in your eyes if your blood pressure has consistently high readings.
Blood spots appear in the white of eyes that are a result of subconjunctival hemorrhage. The blood vessels in the eyes are very thin, and high blood pressure sometimes causes them to rupture which leads to bright red blood spots.
Red spots are usually harmless, but if it is associated with pain, blurred vision, or any previous hemorrhage record, you need immediate medical assistance.
When the blood pressure fluctuates, you may also experience dizziness. The dizziness associated with hypertension, also known as Vertigo (sensation of spinning around), may occur due to a change of medicine, dosage, or situation such as hypertensive crisis.
Sudden onset of dizziness should not be taken lightly as it can be a warning sign of health emergencies such as Stroke or Heart Attack.
#4. Facial Flushing
Facial flushing means sudden redness appearing on the face along with a sensation of heat or warmth dissipating through the cheeks.
Whenever the facial blood vessels dilate in response to certain triggers such as exposure to extreme weather conditions, stress, high blood pressure, alcohol consumption, spicy foods, and even exercise the facial flushing can happen.
However, high blood pressure is not the cause of facial flushing, as facial flushing is one of the effects of high bp.
A nosebleed can occur in patients with disorders relating to blood pressure such as hypertension or clotting disorders.
However, it can be one of the symptoms of hypertension, but you cannot just say a person is hypertensive due to a nosebleed.
There can be other causes as well such as Atherosclerosis( hardening of arteries) in older people, persons on longer-term blood-thinning medications, a dry nose, or colds.
Hypertensive Crisis ( Emergency Situation )
Hypertensive Crisis is a sudden increase in blood pressure i.e above 120 mmHg – 180 mmHg. It is an alarming situation and needs immediate medical assistance as it can lead to fatal conditions such as Stroke or Heart Attack if not managed on time.
Symptoms of Hypertensive Crisis
- Blurred Vision
- Chest Pain
- Trouble to sleep
Risk Factors of High Blood Pressure
- Age. High blood pressure mostly develops in your 40s. However due to unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits, younger ones are also getting hypertension.
- Family History. If any of your first degree relative i.e mother, father or sibling suffers from hypertension, you have a greater risk of getting hypertension than a person with no family history of hypertension.
- Obesity or Being Overweight. If your body mass increases more than your ideal body weight according your height, it poses pressure on your nerves to supply more blood to the body, thus exerts more pressure on your arteries. It leads to hypertension.
- Inactive Lifestyle. Sedentary or inactive lifestyle increases your risk of being obese. Moreover, lack of physical activity accumulates the cholesterol on the walls of the arteries, which in turn narrows the passage for blood flow, leading to incresed blood pressure or blockage.
- Prolonged Stress. Stressful conditions increases anxiety, makes you restless and in turn increses blood pressure. Moreover, stress related habits such as drinking alcohol, eating sweets or eating more can aggergerate the condition.
- Unhealthy Eating Habits. Drinking alcohol, smoking or chewing tobacco gradually damage the lining of the arteries, constricting the blood flow and thus increses the blood pressure.
High salt intake increases sodium levels in your body which retains the fluid in your body. More fluid in your body exerts more pressure on the walls of the blood vessels.
You also need to keep a check on potassium levels in your body as potassium balances the sodium concentration in your body. Therefore if potassium levels are low in your body, sodium levels will increase.
- Other Medical Conditions. Certain chronic conditions such as Diabetes, Kidney Diseases, Breating Problems and even Pregnancy may increase the risk of high blood pressure.
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Managing high blood pressure is a life-long commitment. Educate yourself about hypertension and try to make healthy changes in your lifestyle. The changes may include
- Eat a healthy diet, rich in potassium and low in sodium.
- Reduce alcohal, tobccoo, smoke and salt consumption.
- Involve in regular physical activity such as a daily walk or exercise. Try to manage your weight.
- Yoga and meditation are very helpful in managing stress.
Do check your blood pressure regularly and if the above-discussed symptoms are observed do consult with your doctor as he may change the medication or dosage.
Also if the blood pressure reaches high readings such as in case of hypertensive crisis, never try to instantly lower the blood pressure as it may cause the blood vessels to rupture or stroke. Blood pressure should be reduced gradually within hours.
By committing to a healthy lifestyle, you can get better results from the medications as prescribed by your health care professional.
In this way, you can prevent high blood pressure and will also reduce the risk of any other medical conditions such as heart problems, stroke, vision problems, or kidney diseases.