Blood pressure is the force in which blood pumps through the arteries. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is when this force is very high. Constant high blood pressure means that the heart is forced to pump blood faster and with more force than it should be. If left untreated, this high blood pressure can cause other health complications such as a heart attack, stroke, heart failure and aneurysms.
WHAT CAUSES HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?
Hypertension is one of the most common cardiovascular conditions. While there is no identifiable cause, it is more common among those who are over 65 years of age, are stressed, indulge in alcohol, are overweight or obese and have a history of hypertension in the family.
High blood pressure may be primary or secondary. While primary hypertension tends to develop gradually over many years, secondary hypertension is caused by an underlying condition or its medications such as kidney problems, thyroid problems, sleep apnoea or medications such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants and over-the-counter pain relievers.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Hypertension is often called "the silent killer" because it rarely causes symptoms and may go unnoticed by many who have the condition. Some may experience shortness of breath, headaches and nosebleeds if this condition has become very severe.
The constant force of high blood pressure can, however, damage the arteries and lead to life-threatening complications if left untreated, including vision problems, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and heart failure. For this reason, if Dr Kenaope will test your blood pressure whenever you come for a health assessment to ensure he can treat the condition before it becomes life-threatening.
After taking your blood pressure, Dr Kenaope will be able to diagnose you with high blood pressure. He may also do an exercise stress test to test blood pressure after running on a treadmill. This will give him an indication of how your heart handles an increased beating rate due to exercise.
In terms of treatment, if it is known that a particular underlying condition or medication may be causing high blood pressure, your physician may help by treating that condition first or find an alternative medication to treat that condition. If that isn't possible, changing your lifestyle can go a long way toward controlling high blood pressure. This may involve following a more balanced diet, reducing the alcohol you consume, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising more regularly.
Depending on your health, medications may be prescribed to help. These may include:
- Water pills (diuretics) which can reduce blood volume by helping your kidneys eliminate sodium and water.
- ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and angiotensin II receptor blockers can help relax the arteries making them less constricted, lowering blood pressure.
As each person's condition is different, Dr Kenaope recognises the importance of developing an individualised treatment plan for each patient to prevent the complications associated with hypertension including the risk of:
- Heart attack and stroke
- An aneurysm
- Heart failure
- Lack of blood flow to the kidneys or eyes
- Metabolic syndrome
- Memory problems and dementia