What is Hypertension?

Hypertension, otherwise known as high blood pressure, is very common. In fact, about 70 million American adults suffer from this condition.

This condition occurs when the force of the blood that’s pushing against the walls of the arteries is too high.

Blood pressure is then established by the amount of blood that the heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow to the arteries.

These two components work in tandem and, in short, the more blood the heart pumps and the narrower the arteries, the higher the person’s blood pressure will be.

Three Types of Hypertension

Malignant hypertension – This type of hypertension occurs when a person’s blood pressure is extremely high. Malignant hypertension develops quickly and can cause organ damage. A person with malignant hypertension has a blood pressure reading greater than 180/120 (“normal” blood pressure is below 140/90).

This type of hypertension is not to be taken lightly and should be treated as a medical emergency.  In many cases, this type of hypertension can be caused by missing doses of blood pressure medication.

Secondary hypertension – Another disease is often the trigger for this type of hypertension. In most cases, the person’s blood pressure will most likely return to normal, or will significantly decrease in time. Secondary hypertension can be caused by some of the following:

  • Alcohol addiction
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Sleep apnea
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Tumors or other diseases of the adrenal gland

Renal hypertension – In this type of hypertension is due to narrowing of the arteries that deliver blood to the kidney. Renal hypertension can often be controlled by blood pressure medications; however, some patients may require angioplasty, stenting, or surgery on the blood vessels of the kidney.

Blood pressure tends to rise as a person ages. However, there are ways to treat hypertentsion.

Hypertension Treatment Options

Though people with hypertension don’t usually experience symptoms, once this condition is detected, there are measures that a person can take to keep his/her blood pressure in check.

For instance, one way to combat the hypertensions is to make lifestyle changes that include but aren’t limited to:

  • Eating a healthier diet that includes reduces your salt intake, and adding fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products into your diet.
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Losing weight
  • Managing stress
  • Partaking in regular exercise. Consult with your doctor before starting any exercise regimen.
  • Quitting smoking

Beyond lifestyle changes, your doctor may also recommend taking a medication that can help lower your blood pressure such as:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme– Lisinopril is a good example of an Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor.  This type of medication relaxes blood vessels by blocking the formation of a natural chemical that narrows the blood vessels.
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers– This type of medications relaxes the blood vessels which in turn lowers your blood pressure and makes it easier for your heart to pump blood by blocking the action of a natural chemical that narrows the blood vessel.
  • Beta blockers- This type of hypertension medication blocks the effects of the hormone epinephrine, commonly known as adrenaline and reduces the amount of work on the heart and opens the blood vessels. When a person takes a beta-blocker, the heart will then beat at a slower rate with less force, which lowers blood pressure. Metoprolol is perhaps the most common beta-blocker.
  • Diuretics- These medications, also known as water pills, work in your kidneys to help your body eliminate sodium and water to reduce blood volume. Thiazide diuretics are commonly the first choice in high blood pressure medications.

These are a few of the most common treatment options for high blood pressure.  If you have additional questions, please feel free to stop in or give us a call!