Hypertension is a condition of constant high pressure that may damage arteries and the heart. If left untreated, hypertension may also damage the eyes and kidneys. The higher the blood pressure, the higher the risk of complications, such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Normally, blood pressure varies: it increases during physical activity or stress, and decreases during rest. It also varies from person to person, but has a tendency to increase with age and weight. Normal blood pressure in healthy young adults should not exceed 120/80 mmHg. Hypertension is more common in middle-aged or older persons because the arteries thicken over years. The thicker or narrower arteries and more blood pumped from the heart, the higher the pressure.
Hypertension does not give special symptoms unless it is high, when those could be:
- blurred vision
- nose bleeding
In most cases, the only symptoms are the damages caused by hypertension. When these symptoms occur, then it means the damage has already been done to arteries or organs.
Hypertension is sometimes called “the silent killer” because it can cause a heart attack out of the blue, without any warning.
Today, early screening helps to reduce the incidence of heart attack and stroke.
In most cases, the cause is unknown. Lifestyle and genetics may play a certain role. However, it can be caused by other conditions or diseases, like: medications, alcohol abuse, thyroid problems, congenital blood vessel defects or kidney problems.
Risk factor for hypertension include:
- eating too much salt, diet with little vitamin D and potassium
- race – more common in blacks
- genetic factor
- chronic conditions
- excessive alcohol
Complications usually arise the longer the condition of hypertension. Those are:
- damages to the arteries, heart, and kidneys
- atherosclerosis, which further can cause aortic aneurysm and stroke
- chronic heart insufficiency
- chronic kidney failure