Hypertension, or high blood pressure as it is more commonly known, means your blood is pumping at a higher pressure than normal through your arteries. This can contribute to a number of serious health issues such as heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. Hypertension is a common disorder that affects one in seven Australians and becomes more common with age.
What Are The Symptoms of Hypertension?
There are often no symptoms. The body can cope with the high blood pressure for a long time without showing any outward signs of distress. This is why it is important to have regular health check ups including blood pressure monitoring. A small percentage of people report headaches, dizziness of fainting episodes but this is not necessarily a result of high blood pressure. Hypertension can occur in up to 10% of pregnancies and can lead to pre-eclampsia. Routine screening during pregnancy should identify any cases of high blood pressure.
How to Prevent Hypertension
Hypertension tends to be hereditary so if your family has a history of high blood pressure you need to be particularly mindful of having regular blood pressure checks. Other factors that can contribute to high blood pressure include obesity, lack of exercise, heavy drinking, a diet high in salt and kidney disease. To decrease the likelihood of getting high blood pressure it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes plenty of exercise, a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and low in salt, moderating alcohol intake and maintaining a normal body weight.
How to Treat Hypertension
If modifying lifestyle factors isn’t enough to control high blood pressure the next step is to use medications known as antihypertensive drugs. There are many medications available such as diuretics that help the body get rid of excess salt and water to lower blood pressure and beta blockers that work by reducing the heart rate in order to lower blood pressure. Your doctor will be able to identify the correct drug or combination of drugs for your specific needs. Medications don’t cure the condition and most people who need to take antihypertensive drugs will need to do so for the rest of their lives.