[Solved] hypertension and blood pressure

My family has never been one with a significant amount of health problems. My grandparents are the ones who suffer the the most from health related illnesses, but mostly because of their age. After completing the family tree, the only re-occuring problem I found was hypertension. I chose to write about hypertension because it is the only disease that occured in more than one family member. This means that the probability that I obtain hypertension is higher than the average Joe. On my dad’s side of the family, him, his sister, and both of my grandparents have hypertension. However, on my mom’s side of the family, no one has encountered that disease.

By definition, hypertension happens when the blood against the artery walls is abnormally high, which is just a fancy way of saying high blood pressure. “Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries.” (mayoclinic). Consider this hypothetical math equation. If the heart is pumping a sufficient amount of blood, and you add narrow arteries, that will equal high blood pressure. If the blood is pumping at a slower rate and the body has wide arteries, that would equal low blood pressure.

According the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 of 3 U.S adults have high blood pressure. That number is concludes that there are about 75 million people who have hypertension, and only around 54% of those people know about their disease, and are getting treated for it.

There are two different types of high blood pressure. Primary hypertension, and secondary hypertension. Primary hypertension has no specific cause and this type of the disease develops over many years. Secondary hypertension is basically caused by another pre-existing condition. It occurs suddenly in the body, and has a higher blood pressure than primary. Secondary hypertension can occur from thyroid and kidney problems, defects in the blood vessels, drugs, obstructive sleep apnea, and medications like decongestants, pain relievers, birth control, and other prescription drugs. (mayoclinic). Pregnancy can also cause a woman to increase her blood pressure.

Hypertension, like many other diseases, has many risk factors. This disease does tend to run in the family and as a person ages, so does their chances of getting hypertension. Men are more likely to have hypertension in early ages, and women tend to get hypertension after the age of 65. However, children are not necessarily exempt from the disease. Kidney and heart problems, along with unhealthy living habits like obesity can lead to children having high blood pressure. Hypertension is also more common among people of the african heritage. My father’s side of the family is full of african americans, which increases my chances of having hypertension even more. Yippie! Other risk factors include being overweight or physically inactive, using tobacco and drinking too much alcohol, too much salt and too little potassium in the diet, stress, and other chronic conditions (mayoclinic).

Now, the causes and the risk factors of hypertension are different yet similar. The causes actually cause the disease as mentioned earlier, whereas the risk factors increase your chances of pertaining the disease.

Hypertension in itself has little to no symptoms, depending on the stage it is on. That’s why some people refer to the disease as a “silent killer”. In the early stages of hypertension, symptoms are almost always non-existent. Symptoms only occur in the body when blood pressure levels reach life-threatening highs. Those symptoms include nosebleeds, shortness of breath, and headaches. So, how do people discover they have hypertension?

The most common form of discovering the disease is going through the monthly or yearly check-ups. It is always a good thing to have check-ups to find diseases like hypertension, and other diseases that have little to no symptoms. When seeing a doctor, it is also possible to ask for a blood pressure reading, and people over aged 18 should do so every one to two years.

What happens when hypertension is left untreated? Bad things happen. Strokes, heart attacks, and Aneurysms that can ultimately lead to death. Technically hypertension can not kill a person, but it can open the door for other diseases to get the job done. Having hypertension can also lead to weakened blood vessels in the kidneys, torn blood vessels in the eyes, metabolic syndrome; a cluster of disorders of the body’s metabolism, memory problems, and dementia. (mayoclinic). However, hypertension can be treated after diagnosis.

Diagnosis. How does it work? In order to receive an accurate blood pressure reading, a pressure-measuring gauge or sphygmomanometer is used. It is a small inflatable arm cuff that can read and projet blood pressure levels. The machine then gives off two numbers. The first number measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart is pumping the beat. Also referred to as the systolic pressure. The second number the machine portrays is the diastolic pressure, which is the pressure in the arteries between heart beats. The normal blood pressure numbers are 120/80 mm Hg.

The first stage occurs when the reading are above 120 and below 80. The numbers from here typically continue to rise unless measures are taken to specifically prevent that. Primary Hypertension has a systolic pressure of 130 to 139 mm Hg, or a diastolic pressure of 80 to 89 mm Hg. Secondary hypertension has a systolic pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher, or a diastolic pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher. (mayoclinic).

Let’s talk treatment. Every person with hypertension is likely to have a different treatment plan. There is no one medicine, or diet, or exercise that pertains to all high blood pressure patients. Doctors have to take into account how old a person is, their body type, their sensitivity to certain medications, and a lot of other factors that go into treatment plans. In less severe cases, lifestyle changes is all it takes to lower high blood pressure. In some cases, getting back down to a 120/80 mm Hg isn’t the goal. For patients above 65 the common goal is to get below 130/80.

Eating less salt, exercising more often, maintaining a healthy weight, and lowering the amount of alcohol intake can go a long way, and are the most common types of self treatment prescribed by doctors. In other cases, medicine can be prescribed. A list of theses medications include Thiazide diuretics, Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), and Calcium channel blockers. (Mayoclinic).

So what are some steps to take in order to lower the chances of getting hypertension? Simple. Live a healthy life. Many websites conclude their hypertension prevention tactics with a statement like that. But what does it mean to live a healthy life? Everyone will have a different plan or goal that they want to reach in order to be healthy. And as many differences that there are in each person’s health objectives, there should be common ground in every one.

For example, exercising frequently. Some people will need to exercise more than others, but everyone should get some type of daily exercise in order to prevent high blood pressure. Another example would be maintaining a healthy weight. For some, that weight could be around 120 pounds, while someone else’s healthy weight is 200. It really depends on the body type, and knowing what’s right for each person. Talking to doctors or dieticians can help tremendously in knowing the exact steps to take to lower the chances of getting high blood pressure. Other forms of prevention include having a healthy diet, limiting alcohol intake, and not using any form of tobacco. (CDC)

I think for me, hypertension won’t be a major problem until I’m over age 65. However it is never too early to take the preventative steps I to better my health in the future. My exercise levels are consistently high, because I play two collegiate level sports. I am constantly at practice and in the weight room, so my weight should not be an issue for at least another four years. I have never smoked tobacco, or inhaled any form of tobacco substances, and I plan to keep it that way. I do drink on the occasion, but I know my limits. I never drink during the season, which in college is almost all the time.

The only risk factor I see that could become a problem is my diet. I have been able to eat whatever I want whenever I want, without having to worry about my weight. I also love unhealthy foods. Salt and sugar are two of my best friends, who could one day become my enemy. The plan is to continue my unhealthy eating habits until that option is no longer viable. Will this increase my chances of getting hypertension in the future? Probably. But I can’t give up extra salty McDonald’s french fries just yet.

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