High Blood Pressure: Symptoms, How to Prevent It, Treatment Options

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a condition in which the pressure of blood against artery walls is consistently elevated. It is common and can be managed successfully with lifestyle changes and medication.

However, high blood pressure can significantly increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke when left untreated. High blood pressure often has no symptoms.

Therefore, it’s important to know your risk factors and check your blood pressure regularly. High blood pressure usually doesn’t have any symptoms, but it increases your risk of coronary artery disease (which may lead to a heart attack) and stroke.

If you have high blood pressure, you’re also at increased risk for other conditions that may require specific treatments beyond just managing hypertension itself.

What Are the Causes of High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure is a chronic medical condition that occurs when blood flows through the veins of your circulatory system at higher-than-normal levels.

Blood pressure is the force of blood in your veins while it’s flowing through your arteries to various parts of the body. For most people, systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels are normal and healthy.

However, some individuals have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. It’s one of the most common medical conditions in the world. While it’s often asymptomatic — meaning you’re unaware of its presence — it can lead to serious complications if left untreated.

The main cause of high blood pressure is the narrowing of blood vessels which leads to an increase in blood pressure. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, diet, lifestyle, and environment.

The most common cause of high blood pressure is metabolic syndrome, which is the result of obesity, a diet high in sodium and low in fiber, and a sedentary lifestyle. Other factors contributing to high blood pressure include:

  • Being older than 65.
  • Being male.
  • Having a family history of high blood pressure.
  • Having uncontrolled diabetes.

The Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is often checked as part of routine checkups. A doctor may detect high blood pressure during a checkup if you have risk factors like being overweight, having a family history of high blood pressure, or type 2 diabetes.

There are many ways to bring your blood pressure down before you develop secondary complications from the condition. Let’s take a look at some common risk factors for high blood pressure.

1. Weight and Diet

If there is one risk factor that you can control, it’s your diet and weight. Diet is important here because it can help you lose weight. Excess weight can put pressure on your blood vessels, forcing your heart to work harder.

A diet low in sodium can help reduce your blood pressure while increasing your intake of potassium, calcium, and magnesium can help reduce blood pressure.

If you already have high blood pressure, some people find that a low-sodium diet reduces their blood pressure enough to stop taking medication. Your doctor can help you determine the right diet for you.

2. Sedentary Lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to high blood pressure in several ways. If you are not physically active, your muscles and metabolism slow down, and your body stores more fats. This can raise your blood pressure as well as your cholesterol.

A poor diet also slows metabolism, storing more fat and increasing the chances of developing heart disease and diabetes. Furthermore, physical inactivity can increase your stress levels and raise blood pressure.

Regular exercise can reduce stress levels, increase metabolism, and help you lose weight.

3. Tobacco Use

Using tobacco products like cigarettes and tobacco in any form can increase blood pressure and the risk of blood clots. It can also lead to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis, among other chronic diseases. 

Tobacco use can damage your blood vessels and affect the flow of blood through your body. This can put additional pressure on your heart and increase your blood pressure.

You should discuss the effects of tobacco with your doctor before deciding if you should quit. They can help you develop an effective plan and offer support along the way.

4. Ethnicity and Genetics

Your ethnicity may increase your risk of developing high blood pressure. If you have a family member with high blood pressure, you may also have a genetic predisposition to the condition.

Your doctor can help you determine if your high blood pressure is simply a result of being overweight or if it may have a genetic component.

If you have a genetic predisposition to high blood pressure, you should work to maintain a healthy weight and have regular checkups and blood pressure monitoring.

5. Diabetes

Poor glucose regulation can produce changes in the body that increase your blood pressure. A diet high in sugar can also do the same thing. While it is possible to control diabetes and high blood pressure with diet alone, it is often best to take medication as well.

If you have diabetes and high blood pressure, you should be careful not to reduce your blood pressure too much. This can put your organs at risk of being overworked and cause kidney disease.

Diabetes is also a risk factor for heart disease, so you should work to control both conditions.

6. Medications

Certain medications can raise your blood pressure in the short term or long term. These include over-the-counter and prescription medications, herbal remedies, and supplements.

You should consult your doctor if you experience a sudden rise in blood pressure while taking medication. They may be able to switch you to a different medication or reduce your dosage to get your blood pressure back to normal.

If your blood pressure is chronically elevated due to medication, you should discuss your options with your doctor. They may be able to offer alternatives or adjust your dosage to reduce your blood pressure.

How to Prevent High Blood Pressure?

When it comes to blood pressure, most people don’t think about it as something that can be managed and instead see it as something that you either have or don’t. However, the reality is that there are ways to manage your blood pressure for the long term by controlling certain risk factors.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure.

1. Watch your salt intake

The first thing you can do to prevent high blood pressure is to watch your salt intake. Sodium is a major contributor to high blood pressure, and the majority of people consume way more sodium than they should. The recommended daily amount of sodium is 2,300 mg.

However, the average American consumes 3,400 mg or more per day. You can reduce sodium intake by choosing less processed foods, reading nutrition labels, and eating more fresh foods. This is one of the easiest things you can change in your diet to lower your blood pressure.

2. Get more exercise

Regular physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of developing high blood pressure. Physical activity can help lower blood pressure by reducing stress on the body, which can, in turn, lower blood pressure. The more you exercise, the more you can lower your blood pressure.

Exercise can also help you lose weight, which is another risk factor for high blood pressure.

Exercises that are especially beneficial for your blood pressure include walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming. You don’t need to do an expensive exercise program or spend hours at the gym to see the benefits. Even a short daily walk can make a difference.

3. Control your weight

Maintaining a healthy weight can help lower your risk of developing high blood pressure. In fact, overweight people who lose just 10% of their body weight can reduce their risk of hypertension by as much as half.

It’s important that you try your best to maintain a healthy weight throughout your life. Don’t try to lose weight quickly, as this could lead to unhealthy weight loss tactics. Rather, try to lose weight gradually over time.

You can begin to control your blood pressure by eating a healthy diet that’s low in calories and rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. You may also want to consider adding some exercise to your daily routine. Even just a daily walk can make a difference.

4. Manage your stress

Stress is another major risk factor for high blood pressure. You can help lower your blood pressure by managing your stress. There are many different ways to do this, and you can find one that works for you.

You can start by identifying your stressors in life and then finding ways to manage them.

For example, if you’re struggling to manage work or home life, it may help to create systems to manage your day better. You may also want to consider journaling or finding a stress-reduction technique like yoga or meditation.

5. Don’t smoke

Smoking can greatly increase your risk of developing high blood pressure. In fact, quitting smoking can lower your blood pressure significantly.

High blood pressure is a slowly progressive disease that develops slowly over time. Because of this, it can be easy to ignore.

However, it’s important to keep an eye on your blood pressure. You should visit your doctor if you notice a sudden spike in your blood pressure readings. This could be a sign that something more serious is going on.

Natural Remedies to Control Hypertension

Before taking any drugs or medications, there are several natural remedies to control hypertension that you can try first at home.

  1. Turmeric: Turmeric, one of the main ingredients in curry, can help lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation and oxidative stress (damage caused by free radicals in the body).
  2. Cinnamon: A few studies have shown that cinnamon may have blood-sugar-lowering properties, which could benefit people with diabetes and help lower blood pressure.
  3. Black pepper: Black pepper contains the compound piperine, which may increase the absorption of turmeric, making it more effective and potent.
  4. Lemons: Lemons have flavonoids that can help lower blood pressure.
  5. Basil: Basil contains antioxidants, which can help reduce oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
  6. Ginger: Ginger has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and aid digestion.

Medications to Control Hypertension

There are several different types of medications that you can use to treat hypertension. Blood pressure lowering medications are the most effective way to manage high blood pressure.

1. Beta-blockers

They are a type of medication that works to lower your blood pressure. They’re effective in treating hypertension, but they can also be used to treat irregular heart rhythms, tremors, and migraines.

2. ACE inhibitors

These are commonly used to treat high blood pressure, especially in patients who also have diabetes.

3. Angiotensin II receptor blockers

These work by blocking the hormone angiotensin II, which causes blood vessels to constrict, which leads to high blood pressure. They have been shown to be effective in treating high blood pressure in combination with other medications.

4. Diuretics

These medications encourage the kidneys to get rid of excess water and sodium. They’re often prescribed alongside other medications to treat high blood pressure.

Bottom Line

Blood pressure is a very important indicator of your current health. If it is too high, it can lead to serious problems like heart attacks and strokes. That is why keeping an eye on it is essential.

With the information in this article, you can better understand what high blood pressure is, what causes it, and how to prevent it. You can also learn about the different causes of high blood pressure, its symptoms, and what you can do to reduce your blood pressure.

With these tips, you can better manage your blood pressure and keep your heart and brain healthy for years to come.

If you have high blood pressure, it is important to get it under control. You can do this by making healthy lifestyle changes and working with your doctor to find the best medication for your condition.

Rhinebeck Health