High Blood Pressure - A Silent Killer
High blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure
Hypertension is another name for high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force exerted by the flowing blood against walls of blood vessels. The pressure depends on the work done by the heart and the resistance of blood vessels.
Normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm of mercury. It is called hypertension when it is higher than 130 over 80 according to the American guidelines and 140/90 according to the UK guidelines.
What are causes of high blood pressure?
High blood pressure can occur due to stress, aging and stiffening of blood vessels but it can also happen for no obvious reasons. Known underlying conditions are kidney disease and hormonal imbalances (adrenal and thyroid).
What are the complications of high blood pressure?
Poorly controlled hypertension can lead to heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and visual problems. Most of the time there are no symptoms until they develop complications. As a result it is very important that the blood pressures are checked regularly during the medical check ups. If hypertension is not detected at an early stage (asymptomatic phase) these patients may develop serious irreversible complications which may lead to dire consequences or even premature death.
How do we manage blood pressure correctly?
While blood pressure is best regulated through the diet and regular exercise before it reaches the stage of hypertension, there is are several options like life style adjustments. Life style adjustments are the first line recommendations prior to starting medication. Dietary changes like reducing salt intake, regular aerobic physical exercise at least for 150 minutes per week such as a brisk walk.Stress is one of the main causes which lead to hypertension. Therefore developing strategies to avoid or control stress by modifying one’s own life will be a great value.
Abuse of alcohol, recreational drugs, smoking and unhealthy eating habits should be avoided at all cost. Drug therapy for hypertension is indicated if lifestyle modifications are inadequate to control high blood pressure. Medicinal drugs are usually started with one anti-hypertensive drug which is tailor made for the patient at a low dose .
Side effects associated with anti-hypertensive drugs are usually minor. Eventually a combination of at least two anti-hypertensive drugs may be required to achieve adequate blood pressure control. These drugs should be taken continuously on a long term basis with regular blood pressure monitoring under the supervision of a physician.
This will enable the physician to achieve good blood pressure control and deal with any side effects which may arise. Regular monitoring and health education by the physician should be adequate to eliminate ideas, expectations and concerns of the patients.
- Dr.Chinthaka De Silva
Consultant Physician at Healthy Life Clinic