Use clinically proven treatments to protect your health.
Completing an order with OnlineClinic is easy and only takes a few minutes.
High blood pressure, often referred to as hypertension, affects an estimated one in four middle-aged adults, and half of those aged over 65. Though not an illness in itself, high blood pressure is considered to be the cause of 12.8% of deaths across the world, according to figures from the World Health Organisation. Associated illnesses include kidney and cardiovascular disease. Many people are entirely unaware that they have high blood pressure until it leads to health complications, and for this reason it is often referred to as the 'silent killer'.
Both men and women can develop high blood pressure due to a number of different contributory factors. Blood pressure simply refers to the strength of your blood pressing against your arterial walls as it is pumped by your heart around your body. High blood pressure occurs when this pressure is too high. Normal blood pressure is considered to be a reading below 130/80mmHg.
The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure monitored. The condition does not usually display any symptoms and a failure to take regular blood pressure tests could mean that you remain unaware of it until it causes serious health problems. Symptoms that could potentially occur include vision problems, shortness of breath, nosebleeds and headaches. Health experts recommend that people have their blood pressure monitored once every five years.
High blood pressure can be managed and improved if it is detected early and if lifestyle changes are implemented. In some cases, prescription medication may be recommended. Ideally, an individual's blood pressure reading should be below 120/80mmHg. Multiple readings of 140/90mmHg or above are usually considered to be a cause for concern. A single reading will not be sufficient for a diagnosis; multiple readings are necessary to eliminate potential factors such as anxiety which could influence the results.
The vast majority of people - 95% - who have high blood pressure will have what is known as "primary" or "essential hypertension". This means that the cause of the condition is not known. The very small minority have "secondary hypertension", which means there is an underlying health condition to blame. Such cause for this form of high blood pressure include endocrine tumours, hormonal disturbances, chronic kidney diseases, chronic alcohol abuse and diseases in the arteries that supply to the kidneys.
There are also risk factors associated with essential hypertension and these include ethnicity, age, alcohol consumption, stress, smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and poor diet.
High blood pressure is dangerous because it places extra strain on the arteries and heart. This in turn can cause problems such as heart failure, kidney disease, embolism, aneurysm, stroke and heart attack. There is some research which indicates that high blood pressure may have an impact on the effects of dementia in certain individuals, and in a few rare cases has also been known to lead to female sexual dysfunction in women.
It is highly recommended to have your blood pressure monitored regularly, especially if you fulfil one of the risk criteria detailed above. If a high blood pressure diagnosis is made, you should try to implement a series of lifestyle changes to help control the condition and lower the risk of it causing further health problems. For example, you should stop smoking if you are a smoker, lose weight if you are overweight, become more active and reduce your intake of salt and alcohol.
In some cases, a doctor may choose to prescribe a medication to help control your blood pressure levels. Such medications are usually intended to be taken long term.
Alpha-blockers : Alpha-blockers work to allow the blood vessels to relax. This form of medication is usually prescribed if other treatments have not been successful.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors : ACE inhibitors are among the most common types of blood pressure medication that are prescribed to patients. They work to relax the blood vessels in order to allow the blood to flow more easily through the arteries. They also lessen the quantity of water present in the blood, which reduces the plasma volume that is carried through the blood vessels. Patients over the age of 50 are often prescribed this form of medication.
Beta-blockers : This medication slows the beating of the heart, which in turn reduces the pressure that is put on the arteries and the heart. Beta-blockers are usually recommended if other treatments have been unsuccessful.
Calcium channel blockers : This medication widens the arteries to allow easier blood flow. It achieves this by preventing calcium, which is responsible for the contraction and narrowing of the arterial muscles, from entering the muscle cells.
Diuretics : Diuretics are often used together with other medications. They remove any excess salt and water that is contained in the body through your urine.