What is Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)?
Hypertension is the medical name given to high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force exerted by circulating blood on the walls of the blood vessels as it is pumped around the body. Typical blood pressure for a healthy adult is approximately 120/80 although this varies greatly depending on the individual. Hypertension is when blood pressure is recorded as abnormally high over a number of blood pressure readings.
What causes hypertension?
Some people who suffer from hypertension have no medical cause; this is known as essential hypertension and is quite common. However, secondary hypertension indicates that high blood pressure is the result of another condition.
Obesity, diabetes, smoking, a diet high in salt or fats, pregnancy, and certain medications can all cause hypertension.
What are the symptoms of hypertension?
Hypertension does not usually produce any symptoms and is normally picked up during routine blood pressure checks by healthcare professionals.
Many people with hypertension report headaches, blurred vision, fatigue, dizziness and hot flushes.
What are the risks associated with hypertension?
Persistent or long term hypertension is one of the risk factors for stroke, heart attack, heart failure and arterial aneurysm, and is also a cause of chronic renal failure.
How can hypertension be treated?
Hypertension can be treated with life-style changes and medication. Those with secondary hypertension will require treatment for the underlying condition as well.
Appropriate life-style changes may include weight loss, dietary and nutritional review, smoking cessation and stress management.
If severe enough, medications such as beta blockers, Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors (ACE) inhibitors and diuretics may be prescribed to lower blood pressure.
Also see NHS Direct patient leaflet on Hypertension