o-hypertensionThis article presented in the community interest by Hibiscus Private Hospital in Port Shepstone.  Based on material supplied by Dr Ayoob Bux, a founding director of Hibiscus Private Hospital and chairman of the IPA Independent Practitioners Association.

Is hypertension another name for high blood pressure? Yes. Hypertension, referred to as high blood pressure, is a medical condition in which the blood pressure is elevated.  Blood pressure is a measure of how hard the blood pushes against the walls of your arteries as it moves through your body.

Your blood pressure consists of two numbers, one over the other. The top number is your systolic pressure and the lower number your diastolic pressure.

Someone with a systolic reading of 120 and a diastolic reading of 80 has a blood pressure of 120/80 which is considered normal.  Blood pressure measured at greater than 140/90 on three or more separate occasions, one to two weeks apart, is considered high.

Factors that cause Hypertension:

  • being overweight or obese
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • eating too much salt
  • aging, because blood pressure increases with age
  • having high cholesterol
  • having a family history of high blood pressure
  • not exercising
  • being under a lot of stress
  • eating a diet low in potassium, magnesium and calcium

Symptoms of hypertension:

  • High blood pressure doesn’t usually show symptoms. Most people don’t know they have high blood pressure until they visit the doctor for some other reason. That is why hypertension is known as the silent killer.  Very high blood pressure, however, can cause the following symptoms:
  • headaches
  • visual disturbances
  • nausea and vomiting

The dangers of unchecked hypertension:

  • Over time, untreated hypertension can damage organs in the body and this may lead to:
  • chest pain (angina)
  • heart attack or heart failure
  • stroke
  • kidney damage (renal failure)
  • peripheral arterial damage
  • eye damage (retinopathy)
  • abnormal heartbeat

What to do if you have high blood pressure:

  • Follow the guidance of your doctor and adopt lifestyle modifiers, such as these, that will help reduce hypertension:
  • maintain a healthy bodyweight
  • get regular exercise
  • avoid using too much salt
  • get enough potassium, calcium, and magnesium in your diet
  • limit alcohol use
  • stop smoking
  • reduce stress in your life

In conclusion, please have your blood pressure checked at least twice a year if you have not been diagnosed with hypertension. This is because there are no signs or symptoms of hypertension. If you do not have your blood pressure checked regularly, then you may come to know when it is too late.