High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Dr. Pankaj Sharma
May 25th, 2021
9 mins read

Key Takeaways

  • While blood pressure is necessary for various functions, high BP isn’t ideal
  • Hypertension is a silent illness and can result in strokes and heart conditions
  • Eating right, exercising and managing stress help prevent and control high BP

In the simplest terms, blood pressure is what causes blood to circulate throughout your body. In the absence of blood pressure, nutrients, white blood cells, oxygen and antibodies wouldn’t be delivered to various organs in the manner in which they are supposed to. 

You are said to have hypertension when your blood pressure levels increase drastically because your heart is facing resistance as it pumps. This is usually an outcome of narrowing arteries. The narrower your arteries are, the higher your blood pressure is likely to be. Normal blood pressure is said to be 120mm Hg systolic and 80mm Hg diastolic. You’re said to have stage I hypertension if this reading is 130–139mm Hg systolic and 80–89mm Hg diastolic, and stage II hypertension if it is 140mm Hg systolic or higher and 90mm Hg diastolic or higher. 

When it goes untreated, it is possible that hypertension causes arterial damage, memory and brain function issues, blood clots, aneurysms, kidney diseases and most importantly—strokes, heart attacks and heart failure. Therefore, it is imperative that you know all about the illness, from hypertension symptoms to management strategies. When you’re armed with all the information, you can tackle hypertension effectively. 

Types of High Blood Pressure

Before you can delve into hypertension symptoms, learn about the two types of hypertension. 

Primary Hypertension: 

This this the type of hypertension that most people suffer from. Primary hypertension causes include ones’ genes and lifestyle markers such as extreme inactivity and poor diet. Both of these can lead to obesity, which in turn increases your risk of hypertension.  

Secondary Hypertension: 

This variant of hypertension is caused or triggered by other illnesses. It usually gets better after the root condition has been treated. In some cases, it may also be a side effect of medication that you’re taking. Thyroid problems, adrenal gland problems, endocrine tumors, kidney diseases and obstructive sleep aponia are all secondary hypertension causes. 

Additional Read: High Blood Pressure Treatment At Home

High Blood Pressure Symptoms

Unfortunately, hypertension belongs to the group of illnesses that don’t present physical symptoms. High blood pressure symptoms may show up only when the condition becomes extremely severe, after years or decades. Even then, the high blood pressure symptoms are generic enough to be confused with those of other illnesses. 

hypertension symptoms Infographic

Common extreme hypertension symptoms include: 

  • Nose bleeds 
  • Headaches 
  • Chest pain 
  • Blood in urine 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Vomiting and/or nausea 
  • Palpitations 
  • Dizziness 
  • Blurry vision 

Should you notice any of these extreme signs of high blood pressure, consult with a doctor as soon as possible. 

High Blood Pressure Diagnosis

As you now know, hypertension symptoms are next to non-existent. Therefore, it’s important that you get your blood pressure checked by your doctor. Typically, your doctor will check this at every appointment, but if you haven’t visited him/her in a year, it’s a good idea to book an appointment just for a check-up. 

That said, you won’t be diagnosed with hypertension with one isolated high blood pressure reading. The doctor will require a series of high readings to confirm that you indeed suffer from hypertension. This is because a lot of people feel anxious at a hospital or at a doctor’s clinic, and this may contribute to a one-off high reading. 

Once the doctor has established that your BP readings are high, he/she may order diagnostic tests to rule out medical conditions that could give rise to hypertension, or complications that may arise due to hypertension. This list includes a blood test, urine test, ultrasound, stress test or EKG. 

High Blood Pressure Prevention

The good news is that hypertension can be prevented and even managed significantly through lifestyle changes. Here are 3 simple things that you can try. 

Exercise Regularly:

Obesity is linked to hypertension in two ways. It directly increases your blood pressure, and it can also cause sleep aponia, which in turn results in secondary hypertension. So, exercise regularly to bring your weight under control. Even if your weight isn’t a concern, exercise often as it trains your heart to become stronger and pump blood more effortlessly over a period of time. As per a 2014 review, aerobic exercise, walking 10,000 steps a day, HIIT workouts and resistance training all help lower blood pressure. 

Lower Intake of Salt: 

A diet that is rich in salt hardens blood vessels, makes them narrower and over time results in high blood pressure. Therefore, it’s important that you monitor your salt intake and completely eliminate processed, packaged and canned foods that are notoriously high in salt. 

Quit Smoking and Control Stress: 

If you’re a long-term smoker, know that the chemicals present in tobacco damage your blood vessels and constrict arteries. This results in high blood pressure. So, quit smoking and also focus on controlling stress, which is another contributing factor. Do what soothes you, be it listening to music, reading a book, exercising, meditating or practising an art form or sport.

Additional Read: All you need to know about Hypertension  

High Blood Pressure Treatment

If you present extreme signs of high blood pressure, the doctor will treat your hypertension symptoms first. Otherwise, treatment depends on the type of hypertension that you have.  

For primary hypertension, first line of treatment usually involves lifestyle changes. If these don’t offer much improvement or if their effect plateaus, doctors may turn to medication. In case of secondary hypertension, treatment is typically focused on the underlying condition. When hypertension persists after the root cause has been treated, doctors will recommend lifestyle changes first, and then medication. 

The National Family Health Survey in 2017 found that this illness affects more than 207 million Indians. In fact, it is one of the primary hypertension causes of premature deaths in India. Since watching out for high blood pressure symptoms is an ineffective way of addressing hypertension, make sure that you get your blood pressure checked by a doctor at least once a year. Use Bajaj Finserv Health to find a qualified specialist who can offer superlative healthcare. Book an online or in-person consultations, enjoy discounts from hospitals and clinics, and also get medicine reminders.

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