Frequently Asked Questions on Hypertension
Blood pressure can be quite variable, even in the same person. Blood pressure goes up and down with different normal daily activities Blood pressure tends to be higher during the day than at night and higher in the winter than in the summer. Blood pressure also rises when we grow older, particularly systolic blood pressure.
Approximately 4 in 10 adults over age 25 have hypertension and in many countries another 1 in 5 have prehypertension. An estimated 9/10 adults living to 80 years of age will develop hypertension.
Blood pressure is important because it is the driving force for blood to travel around the body to deliver fresh blood with oxygen and nutrients to the organs of the body. However, high blood pressure is important because it leads to increased risk of serious cardiovascular disease, with complications such as heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and blindness.
For the vast majority of people with high blood pressure no precise explanation is ever found. For this reason, such cases are said to have ‘essential’ hypertension.
In a minority of cases of hypertension (less than about 5%) a precise cause can be identified. These include hormonal imbalances and kidney diseases that can result from genetic problems, occasionally tumours
High blood pressure is more common is older age groups and in people with a family history of hypertension. It is also more frequent in those who are overweight. However, high blood pressure can affect young thin people with no family history, so no one should consider himself or herself immune from high blood pressure
It is the goal of good clinical practice to reduce high levels of pressure wherever possible in order to reduce the risk of complications such as heart attack and stroke.
Changes to lifestyle such as weight loss, reduced salt intake, reduced alcohol consumption or exercise are often the first line of treatment. If these approaches don’t return blood pressure to acceptable levels, then drug treatment is usually required.
The truth is you cannot know your blood pressure unless you have it measured and every adult should know his or her blood pressure. Although headaches and nose bleeds can be the result of very high blood pressure, there are many more innocent causes for these common ailments
A healthy lifestyle and a sensible diet are important. One of the most important things is to keep weight under control. Less weight means lower blood pressure, and it also means less diabetes, less stress on muscles and joints and less stress on the heart.
It is rare for hypertension to disappear by itself. The general rule is that blood pressure gets higher with time and the risk of complications goes up also.
As diabetes itself increases the risk of cardiovascular complications, blood pressure (which can further increase risk) needs careful attention. In general most doctors will consider treating blood pressure in patients with diabetes at lower levels than in patients who do not have diabetes
It is important to talk to your doctor if you have high blood pressure and are planning a pregnancy. This is because high blood pressure can create problems during pregnancy for both mother and baby.
Blood pressure can be treated during pregnancy, but only certain drugs can be used and your doctor knows which drugs are safe and which should be avoided
These days drugs are safe and generally free of major side effects, but no drug is completely free of side effects in all patients.
As blood pressure drugs work by reducing blood pressure, sometimes too great a fall in blood pressure can cause dizziness on standing. you should consult your doctor. However, do not stop medications yourself without medical advice, as sometimes the blood pressure will rebound to very high levels that can be dangerous.
A blood pressure test is easy and painless and can be done in a health care provider’s office or clinic. Here’s how to prepare for the test.
- Don’t drink coffee or smoke cigarettes for 30 minutes prior to the test.
- Go to the bathroom before the test. Sit for 5 minutes before the test.
Blood pressure rises as body weight increases. Losing even 10 pounds can lower blood pressure — and it has the greatest effect for those who are overweight and already have hypertension. If you are overweight or obese, work with your health care provider to develop a plan to help you lower your weight and maintain a healthy weight.
Researchers have found for every 10 percent increase in concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, there is an 8.1 percent decrease in risk of hypertension. With this correlation found, researchers say they will continue to examine ways in which Vitamin D deficiency may influence other risk factors for heart disease including the risk of Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.