What is hypertension?
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a chronic condition where your resting blood pressure is persistently higher than what is considered a normal reading (120/80mmHg). If your diastolic pressure is persistently higher than 90 mmHg and your systolic pressure is persistently higher than 140mmHg, then you have high blood pressure. Based on different readings, hypertension can be classified as:
- Mild or prehypertension: between 130/85 and 139/89mmHg;
- Stage 1 hypertension: between 140/90 and 159/99mmHg;
- Stage 2 hypertension: between 160/100 and 179/109mmHg;
- Stage 3 hypertension: 180/110mmHg or higher.
Hypertension is a complex condition which may lead to severe complications, such as heart attack or stroke. Hence, being aware of your blood pressure and controlling a healthy level is very important for your overall health.
What are the symptoms of hypertension?
The symptoms of hypertension are not specifically linked to this condition and they may be overlooked as being related to other, less severe conditions. The most common symptoms are:
How is hypertension diagnosed?
Hypertension can be diagnosed with several different tests, including:
- Blood test;
- Urine test;
- Stress or exercise ECG;
- 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring.
What causes hypertension?
Hypertension can be caused by ageing, family predisposition, a high salt diet, smoking, obesity, having a sedentary lifestyle, drinking a lot of alcohol, stress and other concurrent conditions.
How is hypertension treated?
Hypertension can be treated with antihypertensive agents, diuretics, alpha-blockers, beta-blockers and sympatholytic drugs. However, it is important to keep in mind that medication therapy should always be accompanied by lifestyle changes. A low-salt diet, constant and moderate intensity exercise, weight control, stopping smoking and cutting down on alcohol can help you reduce your blood pressure.
Which doctor should I talk to?
If you are suffering from hypertension, you should see a cardiologist. In case you also have other conditions, you may have to see an internal medicine doctor, a nephrologist or a neurologist.