High Blood pressure is a common condition that frequently occurs as you age with stiffening of the arteries with cholesterol deposits known as atherosclerosis. It is defined as a blood pressure higher than 140 mm Hg (Systolic or upper number) and 90 mm Hg ( Diastolic the lower number) It is found in 1 out 4 adult persons.
Risk factors are Obesity, Smoking and Alcohol abuse. It can lead to kidney, eye & heart damage. In cases where it is extremely elevated acutely ( >200/110> this is called Hypertensive Crisis or Hypertensive Emergency and some of the symptoms experienced are severe headache, blurred vision, Seizure, edema , chest pain, shortness of breath and confusion. These symptoms require prompt evaluation in the Emergency room! Recurrent Uncontrolled Severe Hypertension with readings above 180/100 mm Hg is called Malignant Hypertension. If not treated appropriately Hypertension can lead to heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and congestive heart failure. Causes are genetic, high salt intake (Blacks) ,Obesity and Atherosclerosis. Other causes of hypertension include Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Herbs, excessive Liquorice, Medications like Amphetamines and Illegal drugs! Endocrine causes are Cushing’s syndrome, Hyperthyroidism, Conn’s Syndrome, Hyperparathyroidism and Pheocromocytoma. A decrease of 5 mm Hg can lead to 30 % Stroke reduction and 20 % less heart disease. Treatment includes Lifetime changes in Diet (DASH diet), daily exercise, Losing weight, low cholesterol guidelines, limit caffeine, reduce salt intake, quit smoking & avoid alcohol. If lifetime changes don’t work then medications are indicated.
Alternative programs that help are stress reduction, relaxation methods, adequate sleep, deep breathing, imagery relaxation, yoga, meditation and biofeedback. Some supplements that help are Garlic, CoQ10, Magnessium, Calcium, Fish oil and Flax seed. .
Complications of untreated hypertension are: Kidney failure since it damages the filtration system causing proteins to spill into the urine. It causes enlargement of the heart muscle leading to Congestive Heart Failure, Coronary Artery Disease and Cardiac arrhythmias. Eye damage called Hypertensive Retinopathy, Strokes from hardening and dilation of blood vessels in the brain. Increased Blood vessel dilation leading to aneurysms. Talk to your doctor and get treatment when needed!