Hypertension – Causes, Consequences and Prevention
There is a need for proper initiatives to minimize cases of hypertension that is on the rise. High blood pressure is one of the lifestyle diseases that is claiming many lives. It is a progressive disease that can take a lifetime to develop. Therefore, most of the people who suffer from the condition had the opportunity to prevent the disorder at some point in their lives. Taking proper precautions to prevent the disease will improve the health standards of many people in the societies. Prevention of hypertension in people require consideration of several risk factors that seem to promote the occurrence of the condition. However, some of the risk factors such as family history due to genetics cannot be controlled. Thus, controlling the prevalence of hypertension requires strategies and the individuals having the disorder will need treatments to manage the condition.
Lack of physical exercise is one the primary risk factors that lead to the high prevalence of hypertension. Physical inactivity leads to accumulation of fats and cholesterol in the body. The increasing body mass of the person requires the heart to increase the pumping rate to meet the body demands. Therefore, the individual who is physically inactive has high chances of developing hypertension. Lack of physical exercise also causes increased peripheral resistance that increases blood pressure.
Consumption of food with high fat, sugar and salt contents have the ability to increase the blood pressure. Consumption of fats and sugar have a direct effect on the individual gaining weight and causing insulin resistance that can result in hypertension (Yanai et al., 2008). Besides, being overweight from unhealthy diet leads to increase in the volume of circulating blood that causes hypertension. Consumption of high amounts of salts causes the body to retain high amounts of fluids in the body. Thus, it causes the circulating blood volume to increase that results in hypertension.
High-stress levels in an individual cause their blood pressure to rise. Increased stress levels cause the release of hormones by the body that increases the heart rates and narrowing of blood vessels. The combination of these effects causes increased blood pressure. Therefore, stress affects the development of hypertension in the person.
Tobacco and Alcohol
Studies show that use of tobacco and excessive consumption of alcohol result in a high prevalence of hypertension. Using tobacco increases the blood pressure temporarily after use. Besides, tobacco further causes damage to the walls of blood vessels that can result in the narrow lumen. The narrow blood vessels cause hypertension in the people using tobacco. Taking alcohol also causes the temporary rise of blood pressure that does not cause problems. However, persistent heavy drinking of alcohol can cause a long-term increase in blood pressure. Studies show that consumption of more than 30g of ethanol every day increases chances of an individual developing hypertension (Husain, Ansari & Ferder, 2014).
Genetics is the only risk factor that increases chances of developing hypertension that people cannot control. The family history showing people suffering from hypertension shows increased chances of a person developing the condition. However, a family history showing a high prevalence of hypertension does not mean that the individual must develop hypertension at some point in their lives. Other lifestyle factors play critical roles in determining the possibility of the person developing hypertension.
Untreated cases of hypertension can have fatal results. Hypertension often results in further health complications that may affect the individual for the rest of their lives. One of the consequences of untreated hypertension is a heart attack or stroke. The increased blood pressure and pumping rates have the ability of damaging heart muscles. The increased stress on the heart muscles causes them to thicken over time. The changes in the heart fail to allow proper blood flow that can cause myocardial infractions. The thickening of the cardiac muscles can also cause heart failures as they fail to pump enough blood to meet the body demands.
High blood pressure causes adverse effects on the kidneys. Hypertension damages the small blood vessels in the organs that are important in the infiltration process. The people suffering both hypertension and diabetes have a high risk of kidney damages. Kidney damage causes retention of excessive retention of fluid in the body causing an increase in blood pressure. Further increase in blood pressure has compounding effects due to activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system.
Hypertension also can cause brain damage that is evident through increased chances of developing stroke when having high blood pressure. A stroke occurs when there is vessel occlusion or cerebral hemorrhage. Hypertension often causes alteration to the neck arteries through atherosclerosis increasing chances of stroke. Hypertension can also impair the brain functions through limiting the supply of nutrients of oxygen and nutrients.
Untreated hypertension also can cause an aneurysm. Under this condition, the blood vessels become weak and bulge as the blood pressure increases. The condition can become life-threatening in cases where the vessel rapture such as in the brain is limiting the supply of oxygen and nutrients.
Prevention of hypertension requires consideration of the lifestyle choices. Continuous education on these strategies is crucial in the society to ensure that people maintain a healthy lifestyle. The choices that people make in the societies should aim at making them healthy. People can change their genetics to limit the possibility of developing the condition. Therefore, the risk emanating from family history cannot be avoided. However, taking precaution through healthy lifestyle choices can ensure that even people whose family have a history of hypertension can prevent the condition.
Taking healthy and balanced diet is one of the ways to minimize cases of hypertension. People should aim at consuming foods that have minimal fat and sugar content. Taking such healthy diets will ensure that people do not become overweight that predisposes them to develop hypertension. Healthy diets are also important in providing the body with necessary nutrients to meet the needs. Besides, people should limit the amounts of salt that they take to limit the development of hypertension.
Encouraging physical exercise in the society is also one of the ways people can prevent hypertension (Diaz & Shimbo, 2013). Maintaining physical activity is crucial in maintaining a healthy weight. Physical activity ensures that people metabolize excess fats and sugars in their bodies. Therefore, it limits the possibility of becoming overweight and developing hypertension. Besides, physical activity ensures that people maintain proper blood circulation to various parts of their body.
People should also refrain from using alcohol and taking excessive alcohol as a way of limiting the rise in blood pressure. Promoting tobacco-free society will ensure that even passive smoke do not develop hypertension due to the action of other individuals in the society. Limited amounts of alcohol can be healthy in various ways. Therefore educating and ensuring that people only take limited amounts will ensure they maintain a healthy lifestyle and do not develop hypertension.
There are various medications to manage hypertension. However, changing lifestyle is one of the major changes that a person suffering from hypertension must take to manage the condition. Lifestyle changes will require taking less salt, quitting smoking and engaging in regular physical exercise. These changes will help during the hypertension management even when taking medications.
Some of the medications available include thiazide diuretics, calcium channel blockers, renin inhibitors and beta blockers. These medications work through various mechanisms to lower the blood pressure or hinder pathways that cause hypertension. Some of the drugs work by opening the blood vessels to reduce the workload of the heart such as beta blockers. Others such as thiazide diuretics aim at increasing water excretion to lower the fluid levels in the body causing a drop in blood pressure. Patients often need to take more than one type of drug to manage hypertension. However, people who require more than three types of medications to control their blood pressure that resistant hypertension. Individuals suffering from resistant hypertension need to consider other possible causes of their high blood pressure.
In conclusion, high rates of hypertension cases are due to lack of consideration of the risk factors. Lifestyle choices such as unhealthy diets and physical inactivity in the societies present some of the major risk factors to developing high blood pressure. Developing hypertension has adverse effects on the health of the patients. The condition can result in further complications such as stroke and cardiovascular diseases. Prevention of the condition should primarily focus on the lifestyle choices with the aim of limiting the possibility of having high blood pressure. However, people who already have the condition can seek medical attention that usually involves using more than one type of drugs. Besides, efficient management of the condition by the patients still requires healthy lifestyle.
1. Diaz, K. M., & Shimbo, D. (2013). Physical Activity and the Prevention of Hypertension. Current Hypertension Reports, 15(6), 659–668. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11906-013-0386-8
2. Husain, K., Ansari, R. A., & Ferder, L. (2014). Alcohol-induced hypertension: Mechanism and prevention. World Journal of Cardiology, 6(5), 245–252. http://doi.org/10.4330/wjc.v6.i5.245
3. Yanai, H., Tomono, Y., Ito, K., Furutani, N., Yoshida, H., & Tada, N. (2008). The underlying mechanisms for development of hypertension in the metabolic syndrome. Nutrition Journal, 7, 10. http://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-7-10
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