High blood pressure or hypertension is at the root of many chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular disease. High blood pressure medication taken regularly can be an answer for this chronic condition, but it still requires other efforts to control blood pressure. Controlling blood pressure is important to prevent the risks of dangerous health problems.
What is High Blood Pressure
Our blood vessels are like a hose or water pipe. The blood flowing in the veins creates pressure like the flow of water in a pipe. The strength of the pressure against the walls of blood vessels can be measured by determining the heartbeat. Each heartbeat indicates the work of the heart pumping blood throughout the body. High blood pressure or hypertension occurs when the strength of the blood pressure is higher than the normal range.
Our blood pressure may rise and fall throughout the day. Activities such as exercise and sleep, also stress, affect blood pressure. However, when blood pressure continues to exceed normal limits on a daily basis, we should increase our vigilance and find out what is causing it. It is because hypertension is the leading cause of heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease.
Blood pressure is measured by two numbers above and below, separated by a slash. The higher number refers to systolic pressure, which is the blood pressure when the heart beats. The lower number is diastolic pressure, which is the blood pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. Normal blood pressure for people aged 18 years and older is less than 120-129/80-84. In general, blood pressure that continues to read 140/90 is considered high.
According to the European Society of Hypertension-European Society of Cardiology, blood pressure can be classified as follows:
|120 – 129
|80 – 84
|130 – 139
|85 – 89
|Grade 1 Hypertension
|140 – 159
|90 – 99
|Grade 2 Hypertension
|160 – 179
|100 – 109
|Grade 3 Hypertension
|Isolated Systolic Hypertension
Based on the cause, hypertension can be divided into primary (essential) and secondary hypertension. Primary hypertension occurs in a gradual process over many years for no known cause. While secondary hypertension occurs due to the health conditions and can be cured by treating the underlying conditions.
When blood pressure suddenly rises, there may be a hypertensive crisis. The hypertensive crisis consists of:
- Hypertensive emergencies: systolic pressure or diastolic pressure higher than 180 or 120 respectively and associated with severe organ damage
- Hypertensive urgency: increased blood pressure similar to hypertensive emergency, but without severe organ damage
Treatment for each type of hypertension varies according to the patients’ condition and the side effects and risks that may occur in the future.
Why We Can Get High Blood Pressure
Hypertension can appear for a variety of reasons or it may not be clearly identified. A doctor’s examination is needed to rule out the cause. Influencing factors include diet, drugs, lifestyle, age, genetics, and other diseases as explained below:
- Too much salt, fat, and/or cholesterol content in food and beverages consumed daily
- Lack of activity/exercise
- Aging (as you get older, you are more likely to have high blood pressure)
- Some individual in the family also has high blood pressure
- Some drugs that cause blood pressure changes
- Inability to control stress
- Has chronic diseases and health problems such as diabetes, hormonal disorders, and high cholesterol levels
- Accustomed to smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages
What to Do for Prevention
When a hypertension occurs, it is difficult to lower it to the normal level. So it is very important to try to prevent it as hard as possible. The most important method of prevention is to practice a healthy lifestyle, for example:
- Reduce salt or sodium consumption. Check the nutrition labels on packaged foods to check how much sodium it contains. Healthy adults should consume less than 2 grams of sodium (approximately one teaspoon of salt) per day.
- Get a balanced nutrition especially by eating fruits and vegetables as well as other nutritious foods, such as whole grain products, fish, nuts, and low-fat meat. Avoid excessive consumption of foods rich in salt, sugar, and fat.
- Be active and avoid prolonged sitting. Adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week.
- Maintain optimal body weight with body mass index as a reference. Use the body mass index calculator that is widely available as smartphone applications or on the Internet to regularly track your weight.
- Avoid smoking because cigarettes contain various harmful substances that cause many health problems.
- Limit alcoholic beverages or quit altogether.
- Control stress using comfortable techniques. For example, doing yoga, be open to family and friends, or immediately seeking help from a psychologist.
- Sleep for 7-8 hours per day.
What to Do for Treatment
High blood pressure can be controlled with regular medications consumption. There are many types of hypertension medications. You must take the right medicine according to the doctor’s prescription. The wrong medicine will put your health at risk. Therefore, you first need to undergo a doctor’s examination.
The doctor will evaluate patients’ general health to make a diagnosis and prescribe medications to lower blood pressure. There are several types of hypertension medications, for example:
- Diuretics: increase urine output so that sodium and body fluids are greatly reduced and blood pressure is lowered.
- Beta-blockers: lower heart rate, heart’s pumping power, and blood volume
- ACE inhibitors: block the production of hormones that can cause blood vessels constriction
- Calcium channel blockers: relax blood vessels
- Alpha-blockers: dilate blood vessels
- Vasodilators: relax the muscles in the walls of the blood vessel, usually only for severe hypertension
Different Types of High Blood Pressure Medications, Which Should You Choose?
The choice of medication for high blood pressure depends on several factors. The general health condition of the patients is definitely something to consider. Patients’ age and their sensitivity to certain drug contents also determine the suitability of the medication.
For example, a hypertensive patient also suffers from asthma. The doctor will not prescribe drugs for high blood pressure that have a harmful effect on the respiratory system. While for patients with high blood pressure who often experience constipation, which is common in the elderly, the doctor will avoid certain medications that can interfere with normal bowel function.
Do not purchase hypertension medication on your own if you are unsure of its safety and effectiveness. Just follow the doctor’s instructions based on your health examination results. Because the condition of hypertension is not the same between one individual and another, the medication is also varied.
When You Should Consult a Doctor
If you have a constant high blood pressure reading, you should immediately consult a doctor to obtain confirmation of the diagnosis. From a consultation followed by examination, you can also learn how to control blood pressure as recommended by the doctor. The problem is, patients are often unaware that their blood pressure is high until related symptoms come into being, such as dizziness, blurred vision, and even fainting.
Therefore, you should provide a sphygmomanometer or blood pressure measuring device at home to monitor blood pressure. Especially if you are at risk of developing hypertension. If for two consecutive days your blood pressure is beyond normal limits, it is a good idea to go to the hospital for a check-up.
What to Do to Live Healthy with High Blood Pressure
If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, lifestyle changes to be healthier are mandatory. Start with simple things, like eating lots of vegetables and fruits and exercising regularly. Even ordinary activities like choosing to walk to the minimarket instead of using a motorcycle is good for your health.
In addition, avoid things that can trigger an increase in heart work that can elevate blood pressure, especially uncontrolled stress and anger. Therapy sessions to control anger as well as mindfulness exercises such as yoga and tai chi can be a solution.
Follow the doctor’s directions on how to control hypertension through a healthy lifestyle. Don’t forget to take the medicine regularly as prescribed. Monitor blood pressure daily at regular intervals to ensure the success of treatment. Call your doctor if you have difficulty controlling your high blood pressure.