Hypertension is the medical term for a condition in which the arterial blood pressure is consistently above the normal range. A blood pressure reading consists of two numbers. The number at the top represents systolic pressure. This is the amount of pressure that the heart generates when pumping blood out through the arteries. The number below represents diastolic pressure. This is the amount of pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest, in between beats. When the reading is above the 140 (systolic)/90 (diastolic) range, it denotes hypertension.
Hypertension may be a risk factor for kidney disease, heart disease, stroke and vascular disease. People with hypertension have a risk of suffering heart attacks and strokes, since it puts a strain on the heart by increasing its need for oxygen.
Hypertension can be caused due to several factors. Some factors include hereditary or genetic tendencies, environmental factors, unhealthy eating habits, stress, smoking, and lack of exercise. Other factors that affect the blood pressure are salt content in the body, volume of water in the body, level of various hormones, and obesity.
Identifying, diagnosing, treating and controlling hypertension at an early stage can significantly reduce the risk of developing heart attacks, kidney failure or strokes.
TYPES OF HYPERTENSION:
There are two major types of hypertension: Essential or primary hypertension and secondary hypertension. Primary hypertension is the most common condition, found in 95 per cent of the cases. It has no definite cause. There are several factors that may act in combination, causing the blood pressure to increase. Secondary hypertension is found in five to ten per cent the cases. Here, the increase in blood pressure is caused by a specific defect in one of the organs in the body. Treating the affected organ can control or cure the hypertension.
Other types of hypertension include malignant hypertension, isolated systolic hypertension, white coat hypertension and resistant hypertension. Malignant hypertension is severe and can lead to damage of organs such as the heart, kidneys and the brain. Isolated systolic hypertension results from age related loss of elasticity of arteries, when the blood pressure is consistently above 160/91 mm Hg. White coat hypertension is caused by anxiety and can be controlled by incorporating changes in lifestyle. Resistant hypertension is a condition in which the blood pressure cannot be reduced below 140/90 mm Hg, despite medication.