Hypertension is simply high blood-pressure. High blood pressure is a common condition that is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. You can have high blood pressure for years without any symptoms. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems.
There are two types of high blood pressure, primary and secondary.
- primary hypertension - no identifiable cause of high blood pressure. This type tends to develop gradually over many years.
- secondary hypertension – caused by an underlying condition. This type tends to appear suddenly and cause higher blood pressure than does primary hypertension.
Some of the underlying conditions or medications that can cause secondary hypertension are:
- obstructive sleep apnea
- kidney disease
- adrenal gland tumors
- certain medications, such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers and some prescription drugs
- illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines
There are many risk factors with high blood pressure.
- age - until about age 64, high blood pressure is more common in men. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after age 65.
- race - high blood pressure is particularly common among people of African heritage, often developing at an earlier age than it does in whites.
- family history - high blood pressure tends to run in families.
- overweight/obese - the more you weigh, the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the amount of blood blow through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls.
- high alcohol intake - having more than one drink a day for women and more than two drinks a day for men may affect your blood pressure.
- stress - high levels of stress can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure.
- high sodium diet - too much sodium in your diet can cause your body to retain fluid, which increases blood pressure.
Continued uncontrolled high blood pressure can result in many complications.
- heat attack or stroke
- heart failure
- trouble with memory or understanding
Be sure to go to all your wellness appointments with your doctor as they monitor your blood pressure a part of the regular routine. Catching high blood pressure early can make a huge difference in treatment. Read our next blog on “How to Combat Hypertension.”