What is High Blood Pressure?
Your heart pumps blood into the arteries, which are responsible for transporting blood throughout the entire body. This blood flow, or blood pressure, is measured by the amount of force it exerts against the artery walls. High blood pressure (Hypertension) occurs from the long-term pressure of blood against the artery walls. High blood pressure is dangerous because it contributes to the hardening, or constriction, of the arteries and makes the heart function harder to pump blood throughout the body, which can cause some health problems, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and more.Common Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is coined the "silent killer" because most people who have it experience no symptoms at all, and those who do, usually don't experience symptoms until their blood pressure has reached dangerous heights. Therefore, the greatest symptom that most people with high blood pressure will experience is an extreme blood pressure reading. Once your blood pressure has reached a dangerously high level, diastolic of 110 or greater, systolic of 180 or greater, also known as hypertensive crisis, a person may experience:
Common Causes of High Blood Pressure
- Severe headache
- Shortness of Breath
- Severe anxiety
Most people think High Blood Pressure is hereditary, and it can be, but unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as lack of physical activity, excess sodium intake, salt sensitivity, and excess alcohol consumption can increase your odds of developing high blood pressure. Being overweight, or obese also increases your chance of developing high blood pressure because it can increase the resistance in the arteries, causing the heart to work harder, thus, elevating the blood pressure.
Prescription medications, such as asthma therapies, over-the-counter medications, like cold relief medicines, and hormone treatments, such as birth control and estrogen can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. These drugs can cause your blood vessels to constrict, alter the way your body manages fluid and salt, or impact the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, resulting in high blood pressure. Sleep apnea, thyroid problems
, kidney disease, and certain tumors also increase your chances of developing high blood pressure. Smoking can also increase the risk of developing high blood pressure because it constricts the blood vessels.
High blood pressure can also run in families. Research has identified many genes and other mutations associated with high blood pressure in the hormone and sodium regulation systems. Imbalances in the kidney can also contribute to high blood pressure. The kidneys generally manage the body's water and salt balance by maintaining water and releasing sodium. Disparities in kidney function can increase the volumes of blood, resulting in high blood pressure.
Pregnant women are also at greater risk of developing high blood pressure. Factors such as first-time pregnancy, carrying more than one child, IVF or other assisted fertility treatments, obesity, being inactive, and family history of hypertension or kidney problems all increase your risk of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy. If high blood pressure persists more than 20 weeks into gestation, it also increases your risk of developing preeclampsia, a serious condition that can cause damage to the brain and other organs and cause fatal seizures.