Hypertension – The Silent Killer

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Hypertension is another name for high blood pressure, that is, the blood pressure is higher than normal or at an elevated state. Hypertension tends to affect the working age group that is often associated with high-stress conditions in the workplace.

If hypertension is not controlled, those suffering may become a huge burden on the health system due to serious health problems. Hypertension is classified into two types, primary and secondary. Primary hypertension is high blood pressure that shows no specific cause. However, certain diet drugs can be suspect. Hypertension is not caused by tension or stress, even though some believe it is. Secondary hypertension may be the result of an underlying or dormant disorder. It is estimated to affect more than 50 million Americans and is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular and renal disease. It is also a leading cause of stroke, heart disease and kidney failure.

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Hypertension can exist in several different forms and symptoms do not appear until it is severely high. It is common in older people and is widely associated with vascular dysfunction in the coronary circulation. When there is excessive pressure against the blood vessel walls and persist over several weeks to months, hypertension is diagnosed. Pressure inside the eye causes both retinopathy and ocular complications. Hypertension can be a serious condition since it can cause damage to many body organs including the kidneys, eyes and heart, among others.

Hypertension is the single most autonomous and important risk for cardiovascular disease, as well as congestive heart failure and even kidney failure. Other factors credited to hypertension are high salt intake, obesity and genetic vulnerability. It can continue for years and not be detected due to lack of symptoms, unless damage has occurred. It is a medical condition that can be a symptom of a dormant disease. The worst effects of hypertension are on the heart, kidneys, eyes and brain. Hypertension is a leading cause of deaths in adults, is a major health care problem and is the single most significant contributor to stroke, one of the biggest killer diseases known to man.

Shortness of breath upon exertion is the most common symptom of pulmonary hypertension and virtually everyone who has the condition develops it. Symptoms may include mild fatigue, dizzy spells, fainting, rapid heartbeat, ankle or leg swelling, bloating, tremors, stooped posture, slowness of movement as well as muscle rigidity. Primary pulmonary hypertension is found two times more often in women as men over age thirty-five. During pregnancy, primary hypertension may be most responsive to dietary calcium.

Diagnosis is by physical examination and renal imaging or measuring the blood pressure. Just about every physical examination includes checking the patient’s blood pressure. A doctor may suspect pulmonary hypertension in people who have an underlying lung disorder. Portal hypertension is implied by the presence of known chronic liver disease such as enlarged spleen.

Treatment varies according to the stage of the disease. Hypertension is controllable with treatment, which may require periodic adjustment. The treatment is often associated with weight loss and increased exercise, but a doctor should be consulted even in cases of pre-hypertension. Hypertension is a very serious condition and should be taken seriously by both patient and doctor. It is commonly treated with drugs that decrease cardiac output and controlled with medications, dietary and lifestyle changes such as giving up smoking, lowering cholesterol and salt intake and exercising on a regular basis. Treatment of patients with primary hypertension is usually directed at the underlying disease. Treatment of high blood pressure significantly reduces the risk of heart problems and stroke. Opening the obstructed renal artery, with or without a stent, usually relieves hypertension.

Some patients may experience excessive daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, morning dry mouth or headaches, chronic nasal obstruction, irritability, depression or impotence. Patients with a diabetic nerve injury will improve if their diabetes is better controlled. Those patients that are overweight, have high stress levels and high intake of caffeine or alcohol, smoke or do not exercise regularly must change their lifestyles to decrease the risk for hypertension. Patients who experience extreme dips in blood pressure at night and extreme surges in the morning, as a rule, stay in the hospital overnight to quickly resume normal activities.


Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Hypertension


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