Hypertension, or high blood pressure, occurs when there is excessive pressure of the blood on the arterial walls as it is transported from the heart to other parts of the body. It is usually a result of the heart pumping more blood than narrowed or blocked arteries can handle. Arteries become narrowed because of a gradual buildup of plaque; hypertension therefore tends to develop over a long period of time.
Hypertension can be present for several years without the appearance of any symptoms. Even in the absence of symptoms, this condition causes gradual damage to the blood vessels and the hears, and if left uncontrolled, it can cause potentially life-threatening complications including cardiac arrest, stroke and aneurisms.
High blood pressure is usually detected during routine visits to the doctor, before the appearance of any symptoms. Some individuals do report severe headaches, shortness of breath or impaired vision, but by the time these symptoms appear, the blood pressure has reached a critical level. Sadly, the first sign of hypertension for some people is a heart attack that may be fatal.
The best way to determine whether you have hypertension is through regular blood pressure checks. This can be accomplished in a number of ways:
Most cases of hypertension cannot be linked to a specific cause. It develops over a period of many years, meaning that while everyone should have their blood pressure checked regularly, senior citizens are more vulnerable to the dangers.
Hypertension can occasionally be caused by an underlying condition, such as sleep apnea or kidney disease. Some medications also list high blood pressure as a side effect. These cases of hypertension appear suddenly and can create higher spikes in blood pressure.
Although some of the risk factors for hypertension are beyond our control, such as age and family history, there are several lifestyle factors that can greatly affect our likelihood of developing a problem: