Hypertension is the most frequently occurring disease in the world affecting more than one quarter of the adult population. Regular measurement of blood pressure is important because high blood pressure doesn’t have noticeable symptoms for a long time. It is often the case that only complications (heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, etc.) draw attention to the problem.
What is high blood pressure (Hypertension)?
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. Hypertension means that the walls of the arteries are receiving too much pressure repeatedly.
Blood pressure is written as two numbers such as 118/70 mm. The top number is the pressure when the heart beats. The bottom number is the pressure when the heart rests between beats.
Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm.
From 140/90 mm we are talking about Hypertension.
What are the causes of high blood pressure?
There are two types of hypertension:
Primary (essential) hypertension
In this case there is no identifiable cause. It can develop as a result of environmental or genetic factors and it may be also related to poor nutrition, lack of physical activity and obesity.
It can be a side effect of certain types of medications.
- Kidney disease, kidney tumour, kidney failure
- Disorders of the adrenal gland such as Cushing’s syndrome when there is an abnormally high level of cortisol in the body
- Sleep apnea (sleep disorder with breathing pauses)
- Preeclampsia (rare disorder of pregnancy)
- Thyroid and parathyroid problems
- Coarctation of the aorta (birth defection when the aorta is narrowed)
What are the symptoms of Hypertension?
In most cases there are no symptoms at all for a long time. It is very important to recognize the disease at an early stage in order to prevent complications. Regular blood pressure measurement is the best method to check our condition.
Dizzy spells, dull headaches, frequent nosebleeds, shortness of breath
Blood pressure measurement is essential for diagnosis. After hypertonia was diagnosed, it is the task of the physician to clarify the types (primary or secondary hypertension) and the causes of high blood pressure. In case of secondary hypertension it is also necessary to treat the background disease.
One blood pressure reading is not enough to diagnose hypertension. The general practitioner will take several readings over a set period in order to set up an accurate diagnosis. This means three separate measurements during a week in calm conditions.
As part of the examination the physician asks the patient about his/her medical –, and family history including other health problems (diabetes, heart problems before, etc.) and habits (e.g. smoking).
Treatments for hypertension
The treatment method always depends on the severity of high blood pressure and the risk factors with particular regard to medical history of the patient.
Slightly elevated blood pressure
Suggestion: lifestyle changes
Moderately high blood pressure
Curing: Probably medical treatment and lifestyle changes
In case of stage 3 hypertension (severely elevated systolic pressure range over 180 mm, and the diastolic pressure range is 110 mm), the patient should be sent to a cardiologist for further examinations.
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