Systemic hypertension: causes, risks and treatment

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Systemic hypertension is high blood pressure in the arteries that carry blood from the heart to body tissues. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with high blood pressure.

Systemic hypertension is measured with a pressure cuff around your arm. The cuff is connected to a blood pressure monitor. The numbers on the monitor can reveal if your blood pressure is high.

High blood pressure usually has no symptoms unless the levels are high enough to cause a hypertensive emergency. It can develop due to a range of medical conditions and lifestyle behaviors.

The potential health complications of hypertension can be serious. But you can often prevent or manage high blood pressure by addressing potential underlying causes and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

This article will take a closer look at the causes and treatment of systemic hypertension, as well as the steps you can take to help prevent it.

Systemic hypertension occurs when the blood pressure in the arteries that send blood from your heart to the rest of your body – except your lungs – is higher than it should be. High blood pressure in the arteries that carry blood from the right side of your heart to your lungs is called pulmonary hypertension.

Blood pressure is often expressed as a two-digit fraction. The top number is the systolic pressure and the bottom number is the diastolic pressure.

Systolic pressure is the force of blood against the inner lining of arteries and is measured as your heart contracts. Diastolic pressure. This is the force of the blood against the walls of the arteries when your heart is resting between beats.

Readings are measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Typical blood pressure is defined by the American Heart Association such as a systolic pressure below 120 mm Hg and a diastolic pressure below 80 mm Hg.

You may hear a medical professional refer to “120 over 80” and use similar wording to tell you what your own blood pressure is.

For most adults, blood pressure readings are categorized as follows:

Systemic hypertension usually has no symptoms. This is why the condition is sometimes called the silent killer. The only way to know that you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked.

If hypertension reaches the level of a hypertensive emergency – systolic pressure of 180 mm Hg or higher or diastolic pressure of 120 mm Hg or higher – the following symptoms may be present:

Some people have high blood pressure only during a doctor’s appointment, but not at other times. This is called white coat syndrome or white coat hypertension. For these people, regular home blood pressure monitoring is recommended.

Home monitoring is also a good idea for anyone at risk for systemic hypertension, including people with the following risk factors:

Systemic hypertension has many potential causes, including underlying health conditions and environmental or lifestyle factors. Health conditions that can increase the risk of systemic hypertension include:

When an underlying medical condition causes an increase in blood pressure, it is called secondary hypertension. Pregnancy can also trigger the onset of high blood pressure, but this usually goes away once the baby is born.

Some of the more common lifestyle and environmental factors that may increase the risk of systemic hypertension include:

  • a high sodium diet
  • alcohol and drug use
  • lack of physical activity
  • smoking
  • insufficient sleep

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)) reports that black people, especially men, face a higher risk of hypertension than many other groups of people. This may be due to factors such as racism, anti-racism methods, misinformation about hypertension, limited access to care, socio-economic status, location, and under-reported health issues. underlyings.

A diagnosis of hypertension can lead to a treatment plan that involves lifestyle changes and medications. If you are diagnosed with hypertension, your healthcare professional may suggest lifestyle changes that focus on:

  • a heart-healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, or a complete plant-based diet
  • limit or eliminate foods high in salt (sodium)
  • get at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 or more days a week
  • lose weight if you are considered overweight
  • quit smoking if you smoke
  • limit alcohol intake if you drink alcohol
  • sleep at least 7 hours a night

If lifestyle changes don’t lower your blood pressure enough, your doctor may recommend medication.

A study 2019 suggests that antihypertensive drugs are both safe and effective in lowering blood pressure in most people. The main first-line drugs for systemic hypertension include:

According to a 2018 reporthigh blood pressure treatment decisions should be based on an individual’s cardiovascular risk profile and personal preferences.

For example, aggressive treatment with drugs can cause unwanted side effects. If so, you may prefer drugs with fewer side effects, or you may choose to focus more on exercise or other lifestyle changes.

Because hypertension affects the health and function of your arteries, every organ and tissue in your body is at risk for complications from poorly controlled high blood pressure.

High blood pressure can make your arteries stiffer, weaker, and less efficient at handling blood flow properly. Some of the many health complications that can arise from hypertension include:

When should you see a doctor?

Keeping up with your annual exams is one way to track changes in your blood pressure. But you should also have your blood pressure checked if you have other conditions, such as high cholesterol or diabetes.

You probably won’t notice the symptoms of high blood pressure. The presence of other risk factors for high blood pressure should prompt you to see a doctor and have your blood pressure checked by a professional.

Can you prevent hypertension?

Hypertension can’t always be prevented, but there are established strategies to help keep your blood pressure at healthy levels. This includes :

Is systemic hypertension hereditary?

Hypertension is a condition that can be inherited, which means that people who lead a heart-healthy lifestyle are always at a higher risk of high blood pressure if their parents had high blood pressure.

However, a study 2017 suggests that changing certain lifestyle behaviors and other environmental factors (such as exposure to second-hand smoke) may reduce the effects of hereditary high blood pressure in some people.

Can lifestyle changes cure hypertension?

There is no real cure for high blood pressure. Instead, health experts use terms such as “manage” or “control” to describe ways to keep blood pressure within a healthy range.

For some people, healthy lifestyle changes may be enough to reduce high blood pressure and keep it within a standard range. As with taking medication to control high blood pressure, you need to stick to these healthy lifestyle habits for them to have a positive effect on your blood pressure. Otherwise, you can expect your blood pressure to rise.

Systemic hypertension is another way to describe high blood pressure, a condition that can develop as a result of an underlying health problem or due to lifestyle choices. You can also genetically inherit high blood pressure.

Focusing on a heart-healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a low-sodium diet can help reduce your risk of developing systemic hypertension. Specific types of medications can also help control systemic hypertension and manage the risk of complications.


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