High blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension (HTN), is a condition in which the blood pressure of a person is abnormally high. Normal blood pressure of a person is when the systolic pressure is between 120 - 139 mm Hg, while the diastolic pressure is around 80 mm Hg. One is affected by hypertension, when the systolic pressure is consistently more than 140 mm Hg and the diastolic pressure consistently exceeds 90 mm Hg.
It is one of the most common disorders in the United States, with every 1 in 3 adults being affected by this condition. It is one of the leading causes of death in the US. Most people don't even know that, they are affected by this condition, until they measure their BP. Generally, there are two types of HTN.
- Essential Hypertension (Primary): It is the most common form of HTN. The main cause of this condition is the increase in the systolic pressure. It is mostly observed in adults.
- Malignant Hypertension (Secondary): It is a complex form, which is characterized by the increase in the blood pressure and damage to some vital organs such as the brain, eyes, liver, kidneys, etc.
The main causes of HTN are obesity, a passive lifestyle, excessive alcohol intake, family history, genetic mutations, stress, and high consumption of salt and fat.
It is a major risk factor for heart diseases, stroke, and kidney failure.
Arteriosclerosis or Atherosclerosis
: High BP damages the walls of the arteries, and it mainly affects the joints and tendons. In response to this damage, the body's repair system builds fatty tissue around the walls of the arteries, thereby restricting the blood flow. Due to HTN, there is an increased pressure on the heart, and reduced blood supply to the heart, kidney, arms, legs, etc. The complexity depends on the amount of blood supply and the organ which is affected.
: Sometimes, an artery might swell up due to the increase in the pressure on it. This bulge can rupture and cause internal bleeding.
Congestive Heart Failure
: This is caused mainly because of heart attack. The heart has to work extra hard to compensate for the increased blood pressure. Over time, the heart muscles weaken, causing congestive heart failure.
Enlarged Left Heart
: The left ventricle of the heart is the part, which pumps out blood to the organs. Due to an increase in the blood pressure, the heart has to pump more blood than usual, which results in its enlargement. People with enlarged left ventricle are at a greater risk of a heart attack, stroke, and sudden cardiac arrest.
: There are two types of strokes. The thrombotic stroke is caused due to temporary disruption of blood or oxygen supply to the brain or a blood clot in the artery. The hemorrhagic stroke is caused due to the rupturing of the arteries, as a result of the increased pressure. The latter may prove fatal, in some cases.
: HTN is one of the main causes of kidney failure. There are tiny capillaries in the kidney called glomeruli, which filter out the waste from the blood. High BP damages the glomeruli, causing kidney scarring (glomerulosclerosis). As a result, the kidneys cannot work effectively, which in turn might lead to higher level of waste in the blood.
Moreover, delayed diagnosis, improper medication, and unhealthy lifestyle can increase the risks. Hence, take proper medication, quit smoking, maintain a healthy diet, and lead an active and stress-free lifestyle.