Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a medical condition in which systemic blood pressure is constantly high. Hypertension is often latent in nature and proceeds without pronounced symptoms. However, it increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, eye disease, and kidney disease, so it is important to be able to identify hypertension and know how to prevent it.
Part 1 of 3: Identifying Hypertension
Step 1. Measure your blood pressure with a tonometer or sphygmomanometer
These inexpensive devices can be purchased at a pharmacy or ordered online. In addition, you can measure your blood pressure at the nearest clinic, as well as at some pharmacies. Measuring blood pressure is part of the standard procedures for physical examinations and visits to a physician.
- Make sure the device has the correct cuff size. If the cuff is too large for your hand, the device will show underestimated values. Conversely, in the case of a small cuff, the reading will be overestimated.
- The cuff of the tonometer should be positioned at the level of the heart.
- When the cuff is inflated, you should remain stationary. Your movements will increase peripheral vascular resistance, resulting in high blood pressure values.
Step 2. Measure the systolic (upper) blood pressure
This is the pressure of the blood in the vessels during the contraction of the heart muscle. If you are using a mechanical tonometer, inflate the cuff on your arm until the pulsation disappears from the stethoscope attached to the brachial artery, then slowly release air from the cuff and note the maximum pressure at which pulsations will be heard in the stethoscope again - this and there will be systolic blood pressure.
Step 3. Measure the diastolic (lower) blood pressure
This is the pressure of the blood between the beats of the heart. If you are using a mechanical blood pressure monitor, after measuring the systolic pressure, continue to slowly release air from the cuff until the pulsation disappears. The pressure at which they disappeared will be the diastolic blood pressure.
Step 4. Measure your blood pressure periodically over several weeks or months
Note that one measurement alone cannot tell if you have hypertension. For the diagnosis of hypertension, at least three measurements with values above 140/90 are necessary, and at least three weeks must elapse between the first and last measurement. Essential hypertension assumes that blood pressure is constantly increased.
Step 5. See your doctor
He will be able to confirm the diagnosis and prescribe additional tests in order to identify the etiology of the disease and possible damage to internal organs. Your doctor may order the following tests and tests for you:
- A blood test for urea nitrogen and creatinine and a urinalysis to find out if the kidneys are sick;
- Serum analysis for sodium, potassium, calcium and thyroid-stimulating hormone to check if hypertension is caused by any endocrine disease, such as primary hyperaldosteronism;
- Fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol, high (HDL) and low (LDL) density cholesterol, triglycerides in order to detect possible metabolic diseases such as diabetes mellitus or hypercholesterolemia;
- Electrocardiography and fluorography to recognize hypertensive cardiopathy.
Step 6. Remember white coat hypertension
This is the name of the phenomenon when blood pressure rises sharply in the clinic or in the presence of a doctor (as indicated by the words "white coat"), remaining normal in other conditions. Some believe that this syndrome is due to anxiety experienced in the presence of doctors, while others believe that it is a harbinger of future hypertension.
If you have this syndrome, ask your doctor about using a portable blood pressure recorder. This device will allow you to record your blood pressure for 24 hours or more, thereby showing whether you are really prone to chronic hypertension
Part 2 of 3: What is Hypertension
Step 1. Learn about the symptoms of hypertension
As a rule, hypertension is accompanied by a small number of symptoms, and often they are completely absent. Hypertension is usually diagnosed by measuring blood pressure. In different people, hypertension can be accompanied by various symptoms, often manifested only with an excessive increase in pressure. The following signs may indicate hypertension:
- Labored breathing
- Nose bleed
- Increased fatigue
Step 2. Learn to recognize the different stages of hypertension
You are considered to have hypertension, or high blood pressure if your blood pressure is over 120/80. There are several stages of hypertension, distinguished by the pressure of the blood pumped by the heart.
- 120–139/80–89 - with blood pressure in this interval, one speaks of prehypertension. Over time, pressure can rise, but as long as it remains within these limits, there is little cause for concern.
- 140–159/90–99 - blood pressure in this interval corresponds to the first stage of hypertension. This is fixable, although it is already a cause for concern. With this pressure, you should make changes in your lifestyle (eat less salt, lose weight, limit the use of alcoholic beverages), and also consult your doctor about other preventive measures, including medication.
- 160 and above / 100 and above - such values of blood pressure correspond to the second stage of hypertension. This is a very dangerous level of pressure and in this case you should see a doctor immediately.
Step 3. Learn more about primary hypertension
Most people develop hypertension gradually, over the years, for no apparent reason. This type of hypertension is called primary, or essential hypertension.
Step 4. Learn about the causes of secondary hypertension
In secondary hypertension, high blood pressure is due to a specific cause. Hypertension of this type develops faster and leads to more serious consequences than primary hypertension. Secondary hypertension can be caused by:
- Diseases of the thyroid gland
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Taking certain medications (birth control pills, decongestants, etc.)
- Kidney disease
- Obstructive sleep apnea (respiratory arrest) syndrome
Part 3 of 3: Preventing Hypertension
Step 1. Quit smoking
Smoking and chewing tobacco increases blood pressure not only during the process itself, but also in the long term. Substances in tobacco damage the walls of blood vessels, causing them to thin, resulting in high blood pressure.
Step 2. Limit alcohol consumption
Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages can damage many internal organs, including the heart and liver, as well as high blood pressure.
Alcohol can also interact with your high blood pressure medications
Step 3. Limit salt intake
Too much salt leads to a buildup of fluid in the body, which raises blood pressure. By limiting your intake of unhealthy, high-salt foods, you can more easily normalize your blood pressure.
Step 4. Get more potassium
This trace mineral helps cells maintain the required sodium balance. If there is a lack of potassium, too much sodium can build up in the cells, resulting in increased blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure, try to eat more potassium-rich foods like bananas, potatoes, yogurt, orange juice, lentils, pistachios, and so on
Step 5. Take a vitamin D supplement
This vitamin affects the enzymes produced by the kidneys that cause high blood pressure, so taking it will help lower blood pressure.
Step 6. Reduce your stress levels
Stress has a negative effect on the body and, in particular, leads to an increase in blood pressure. This effect is even more pronounced if you smoke, drink alcohol, or eat a lot to reduce stress.
Try to relax in other ways, such as reading a book, taking a bath, or taking a walk. This will help you lower your blood pressure
- Isolated systolic hypertension is possible, in which blood pressure is ≥140 / <90 mm Hg. Art., as well as isolated diastolic hypertension, when the pressure takes values <140 / ≥90 mm Hg. Art.
- If you are in your 50s, your upper arm blood pressure measurement is the most accurate.
- Blood pressure is constantly changing and influenced by many factors, such as diet, salt sensitivity, exercise, illness, medication (eg, oral contraceptives, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, nasal congestion, diet pills, tricyclic antidepressants), use alcohol, stress, excess body weight.