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Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the term used to describe the condition of increase in the pressure exerted by blood on the walls of the arteries. It is also called arterial hypertension. Symptoms are subtle in the early stages and are undetectable until later stages when medication and lifestyle changes become a must for cure.

Research shows that one in every 8 people is affected by this chronic disorder. Studies also show that approximately 27% of the world’s adult population is affected by hypertension. As of 2013, in Europe only, 45% of the population is combating hypertension. It has also been noted that hypertension affect men more than women.

Hypertension is basically increased blood pressure. When blood pumps through the body, it exerts a particular amount of pressure on the walls of the arteries. When this pressure increases due to various physical causes, it leads to hypertension.

Hypertension is classified as primary and secondary hypertension. Primary hypertension is when the patient does not have any obvious medical conditions that could be considered to be the cause of the increased blood pressure. 95% of the hypertension patients suffer from primary hypertension. Secondary hypertension is caused due to underlying factors such as conditions that affect the heart, kidneys, arteries or the endocrine system.

Two measurements are used to summarize the blood pressure of the patient: The systolic (contraction of the heart), and the diastolic (relaxation of the heart between beats). These two measurements serve as the maximum and the minimum pressures respectively.

Under normal circumstances the systolic reading should be between 100 and 140 mmHg, and the diastolic reading should be between 60 to 90 mmHg. A person is said to have hypertension if the blood pressure is abnormally high for 3 or more health visits, or 3 checks each one month apart. Patients with chronic diseases do not fall under this category as hypertension in those cases is considered a case of secondary hypertension.

What Causes Hypertension?

Patients with no obvious reasons to serve as a cause for hypertension are said to have primary hypertension. This is the case in about 95% of the cases. In Secondary hypertension cases, the cause is known to be chronic diseases that may affect the kidney, heart, arteries, or endocrine system.

Hypertension is mostly considered to be caused by faulty lifestyle or eating habits, such as:

  • Smoking: a psychoactive drug,nicotine has long been known to be the cause of increased blood pressure and heart rate. People with hypertension are not allowed to smoke.
  • Obesity: being overweight or obese is also considered a cause for hypertension. People with a high BMI (Body Mass Index) and extra weight are advised to reduce weight.
  • Stress: stress is considered an indirect cause of hypertension. Coping methods such as smoking, drinking, drugs, and overeating can increase chances of hypertension.
  • Salt: Sodium causes water retention and bloating, which in turn increase blood pressure.
  • Alcohol: consuming more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day increases the risk of hypertension in people.

How Does Hypertension Affect Your Health?

Hypertension is considered to be one of the most preventable diseases and cause of premature deaths all around the world. A person suffering from hypertension is highly susceptible to:

  • Ischemic heart disease
  • peripheral vascular disease
  • strokes and heart failure
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • hypertensive retinopathy
  • hypertensive nephropathy

Hypertension affects the heart, the brain, the eyes and the kidneys.

Consistent high blood pressure can cause arteries and capillaries in the brain, kidneys and the eyes to rupture under the increased pressure.

Hypertension affects men, women and children alike. It is thus important to have a healthy body, a healthy lifestyle and monitor blood pressure regularly.

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