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What is Hypertension?

In UK , almost every one in four people suffer from this condition called hypertension. People are not usually worried about hypertension, though wrongly, because of lack of any prominent symptom. Hypertension, also called as high blood pressure, is a condition where the pressure levels of the blood are chronically raised.

Persistent hypertension increases the risk of strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, arterial aneurysm and chronic renal failure. People with hypertension are generally seen as having low life expectancy. When the blood pressure persistently measures more than 140 mmHg or greater (systolic) and 90 mmHg or greater (diastolic), high blood pressure is diagnosed.

Hypertension is usually classified into two categories -- essential (primary) and secondary. Essential hypertension does not necessarily have any medical cause in the patient. Secondary hypertension is when the high blood pressure is due to another condition, like kidney disease or tumors. Further, hypertension is divided into four types -- renal hypertension, adrenal hypertension, Cushing’s syndrome and rebound hypertension.

Renal hypertension is produced due to the disease of the kidney and renal arteries. Adrenal hypertension is caused by adrenal cortical abnormalities. In Cushing’s syndrome, hypertension is caused by the interplay of various pathophysiological mechanisms, which regulate the plasma volume, peripheral vascular resistance and cardiac output. Rebound hypertension is the result of the sudden withdrawal of various antihypertensive medications. This type of hypertension can be avoided by reducing the dose of the medication gradually.

Hypertension Symptoms

High blood pressure can result in headaches, dizziness, fatigue, facial flushing, transient insomnia, feeling hot or flushed, tinnitus and problems with vision in some people, while the majority does not suffer from any symptom at all. Hypertension can also lead to heart attack, stroke or renal damage.

The only test for diagnosing hypertension is blood pressure measurement.

Causes of Hypertension

There is no exact cause for hypertension, though it is seen that hypertension runs in family. Despite no specific causes, few common triggers have been short-listed. These are salt sensitivity (high levels of salt are one of the most common factors of hypertension), renin homeostasis (high renin level leads to hypertension), insulin resistance, sleep apnea, genetics and age. Consumption of liquor is also seen to cause a surge in pressure.

Hypertension Treatment

On the eve of diagnosis of hypertension, patients are suggested to bring about a change in their presiding lifestyle. One needs to follow a strict code like weight reduction, regular aerobic exercise, reducing sodium in the diet, increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables and fat-free dairy products, reducing the intake of fatty foods, increasing the intake of calcium and potassium (which can help in undoing the effect of sodium and help the kidney reduce the blood pressure), discontinuing the use of tobacco and alcohol (as it is seen that the level of blood pressure rise dramatically after the intake of alcohol in the blood stream and thus strictly prohibited) etc are few of the important and necessary changes to be made.

These days people suffering from hypertension can also opt for relaxation therapy like meditation, which helps in reducing the environmental stress and high sound levels, thus helping in combating the hypertension. But the above-mentioned treatment and therapies are not the only treatment to be taken.

Various medications are also prescribed which are called as antihypertensive. Some of the commonly used drugs are: ACE inhibitors such as creatine captopril, enalapril, fosinopril (Monopril), lisinopril (Zestril), quinapril, ramipril (Altace); Angiotensin II receptor antagonists, like telmisartan (Micardis, Pritor), irbesartan (Avapro), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), candesartan (Amias); Alpha blockers such as doxazosin, prazosin, or terazosin; Beta blockers such as atenolol, labetalol, metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol-XL), propranolol; Calcium channel blockers such as nifedipine, amlodipine (Norvasc), diltiazem, verapamil; Direct renin inhibitors such as aliskiren (Tekturna); Diuretics like bendroflumethiazide, chlortalidone, hydrochlorothiazide (also called HCTZ); and combination products (which usually contain HCTZ and one other drug).

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