High blood pressure
High blood pressure (HBP or hypertension) refers to the condition in which the force exerted by blood on the walls of blood vessels is constantly high. The greater the amount of blood pumped by the heart and the more the resistance in blood vessels (for example, due to narrowing of arteries), the higher the blood pressure.
Normal blood pressure is below 120/80.
What is high blood pressure?
Based upon the cause, hypertension is divided into two main types:
Primary (or essential) hypertension
Hypertension with no known cause is called primary hypertension and constitutes 95% of the hypertension cases in the US. Certain risk factors such as stress, smoking, genetic predisposition, consumption of fatty and salty foods, and sedentary lifestyle increase the chances of developing primary hypertension.
In patients with secondary hypertension, the exact cause of high blood pressure is known. Some of the major causes of secondary hypertension are kidney diseases, tumors in the adrenal glands (responsible for producing hormones such as cortisol), and drugs. Hypertension can also occur in pregnancy and with the intake of birth control pills.
High blood pressure damages blood vessels and is often called a silent killer. It can lead to complications such as stroke, vision loss, kidney disease, heart failure, and vascular dementia (memory loss due to low blood flow to the brain). However, with treatment, the risk of these complications can be lowered significantly.
The medications we commonly see prescribed to our customers are:
- Diuretics, such as chlorthalidone and hydrochlorothiazide, that remove excess water and sodium from the body. Most people who recently developed hypertension are prescribed these as the first line of therapy.
- ACE inhibitors, such as lisinopril and captopril, often seen prescribed to diabetic patients.
- ARB blockers, including candesartan and losartan.
- Calcium channel blockers, such as amlodipine, which are usually seen prescribed to older people.
Blood pressure can increase due to various reasons. Hypertension cannot be completely cured, but blood pressure can be maintained within a normal range with medications and lifestyle modifications. It is important to quit smoking, maintain a healthy weight, and lead an active life to reduce the risk of developing hypertension.