What is the meaning of hypertension?
According to the Department of Health (DOH), about 12 million Filipinos are considered as hypertensive. Additionally, hypertensive heart disease, which is a complication of hypertension, ranks as 7th among the leading causes of death in the Philippines.
In order to understand why it’s such a leading cause of death, we first need to understand what is the meaning of hypertension.
Hypertension, simply put, is having blood pressure that’s higher than what is deemed healthy.
According to the WHO, if a person’s blood pressure is measured at or above 130 systolic and/or at or above 80 diastolic or at least 130 over at least 80, then that person has high blood pressure. This means that their blood is exerting more pressure on their arteries, and this can cause numerous health problems.
However, having blood pressure that is lower than that does not necessarily mean that a person’s blood pressure is within the healthy range. A blood pressure reading of systolic 120 to 129mmHg and diastolic <80mmHg or simply 120 to 129 over less than 80 can mean that a person might be prehypertensive, or that they are prone to developing hypertension later on in life.
Knowing what is the meaning of hypertension alone isn’t enough to be informed about the risks. It’s also important to know what health problems can arise from hypertension.
Causes and Risk Factors
Now that we know what is the meaning of hypertension, we need to understand what causes hypertension in the first place.
Hypertension is the result of numerous genetic and environmental factors that have multiple effects on your cardiovascular and renal systems.
Although the exact cause of hypertension remains unclear, a number of risk factors are strongly associated with its development, such as the following:
- Being overweight or obese can cause hypertension since more blood needs to get pumped throughout the body, which causes the pressure on your blood vessels to increase.
- Lack of exercise or physical activity increases the risk of being overweight, and people who do not engage in regular exercise have higher resting heart rates, which means the heart works harder to pump blood.
- Having an unhealthy diet, especially foods that are high in sodium can increase your blood pressure.
- Smoking, or using any tobacco products can temporarily increase your blood pressure while you are using it, and can also cause damage to your blood vessels.
- Stress is also a factor that contributes to hypertension, since being stressed can heighten a person’s blood pressure.
- Drinking too much alcohol can also cause hypertension, since it canIn all actuality, the byproduct of alcohol (in excessive amounts), called acetaldehyde, is what directly damages the heart and impair its ability to pump blood.
- Hypertension can also be hereditary, which means it can be passed down from parents to their offspring.
- Age also plays a role in hypertension, as your systolic blood pressure blood pressure increases as you grow older.
Based on information from the World Health Organization (WHO), over 1.13 billion people worldwide have hypertension. And every year, over 7.6 million people die due to complications resulting from hypertension.
Knowing what is the meaning of hypertension can help people be more informed about this condition. It also helps them avoid risk factors that can significantly reduce their chances of being diagnosed with hypertension, especially later on in life.
Complications of Hypertension
Hypertension is associated with significant increase in risk of adverse cardiovascular and kidney problems. If left unaddressed, high blood pressure can lead to the following complications:
- Another complication is heart failure. Having hypertension causes your heart to work harder to fight against the higher pressure, this can thicken your heart’s muscles, making it even more difficult for it to pump blood. Eventually, this can lead to heart failure.
- A stroke or a heart attack is also a possibility for those with hypertension. Having hypertension can cause the walls of the arteries to become harder, which makes it more difficult for blood to circulate in the body.
- Aneurysm, or when high blood pressure weakens your blood vessels, causing them to bulge. If the aneurysm ruptures, it can quickly lead to death.
- High blood pressure can also weaken the blood vessels in the kidney, which can prevent it from performing its normal function.
- It can also affect a person’s eyes, if the blood vessels start to narrow, or in some cases, tear. This can lead to blurred vision, or vision loss.
- High blood pressure can prevent blood from being sent efficiently to your brain, which can damage it and cause dementia.
This is why it’s important to manage your blood pressure, and keep it in check in order to avoid experiencing any of these complications.
Aside from knowing what is the meaning of hypertension, as well as the risk factors, it’s crucial to know the signs that you might potentially have this condition.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), stroke, which results from hypertension, is the second most common cause of death among men, and fourth most common cause of death among women.
Being aware of the signs of hypertension helps people better manage it, and get their blood pressure under control. As hypertension is usually asymptomatic, there are potential symptoms to warn you of hypertension:
- Blood pressure that’s higher than 130/80
- Headaches especially early in the morning
- Changes in vision (blurred vision)
- Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing of the ears)
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Vertigo (dizziness or imbalance)
- Chest pain or angina
It is also possible for a person with hypertension to overlook any of these symptoms. This is why hypertension is regarded as a silent killer, since the symptoms aren’t always felt.
This is why it is important to regularly check your blood pressure in order to make sure that it is still within the healthy range or below 120/80.
Apart from knowing what is the meaning of hypertension, knowing how to prevent hypertension is very important.
Compared to other potentially life-threatening conditions, hypertension can be managed and people who have been diagnosed are able to control it even without medication.
Here are some of the ways to keep your blood pressure in check:
- Make sure to have a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables, and low in processed and fatty foods.
- Eat less salty foods, or use less salt in the food you eat.
- Engage in daily exercise, at least 30 minutes each day.
- If you are a smoker, it would be advisable to quit smoking.
- If you regularly drink alcohol, it would be advisable to cut back on your consumption.
If you already have high blood pressure, here are some ways of how to manage and treat hypertension:
- Be sure to constantly monitor your blood pressure to know how well you are managing your hypertension.
- Follow your doctor’s orders, and be sure to drink the medication that your doctor prescribed.
- Avoid eating fatty or salty foods, and add more fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Engage in regular exercise to help you maintain a healthy weight and keep your body healthy.
Hypertension is a major health problem not just in the Philippines, but worldwide. In fact, a large number of people with hypertension remain undiagnosed and unaware of their condition.
And aside from knowing what is the meaning of hypertension, knowing what can potentially cause it, and what you can do to manage it is very important.
This is why it would be a good idea to get your blood pressure checked to know if you might be suffering from hypertension. And even if you are still within the normal range, it would be best to make some positive lifestyle changes to start living healthier.
The risk of hypertension increases with age, so keeping healthy while you are still young is a good way to avoid having high blood pressure later on in life.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.