Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is fairly a common heart condition. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 1.28 billion adults aged 30–79 years worldwide have hypertension, out of which an estimated 46 per cent of adults with hypertension are unaware that they have the condition. This condition can be life-threatening if not treated on time. What makes this condition dangerous is that it shows no symptoms. Due to this, a lot of people aren’t even aware whether they have hypertension or not. But what causes hypertension? On World Hypertension Day, let’s find the common causes of hypertension.
What is hypertension?
Hypertension, commonly referred to as high blood pressure, is the blood pressure that is higher than usual. Blood pressure over 140/90 is considered hypertension, while BP over 180/120 is considered severe hypertension.
Symptoms of hypertension
Hypertension often has no noticeable symptoms. However, there are several indicators of high blood pressure, including early-morning headaches, nose bleeding, erratic heartbeats, eyesight problems, and ear buzzing. Additionally, high BP also raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and other health issues by deteriorating blood vessels and organs over time. Apart from it, severe hypertension can lead to fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, anxiety, chest pain, and trembling of the muscles.
Health Shots asked Dr Chetan Bhambure, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road, Mumbai, to help us understand the causes of high blood pressure.
Causes of hypertension
There are two types of hypertension such as essential (primary) hypertension and secondary hypertension. Each type has different causes.
1. Primary hypertension
When it comes to the causes of primary hypertension, there isn’t a single factor that raises the risk of high BP. Usually, it develops over time due to several risk factors which include:
- Lack of physical activity
- An unhealthy diet such as fast food, fried food, processed, frozen and canned foods
- High consumption of alcohol and caffeine
- Being overweight and have obesity
- High salt intake
- A regular habit of smoking
- Having a sedentary lifestyle and staying inactive all the day
- Insulin resistance/diabetes or metabolic syndrome
- Stress and other mental health problems
- It can be genetic
- Age is 65 and above
Primary hypertension often develops gradually over many years, raising complications for your heart health.
Also read: World Hypertension Day: How to monitor your blood pressure at home
2. Secondary hypertension
Secondary hypertension is quite different from primary hypertension. Unlike primary hypertension, secondary hypertension is not due to ageing or lifestyle factors. It is caused by a variety of medical conditions and medications you are taking. The common causes include:
- Chronic kidney diseases
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Thyroid problems
- Adrenal gland tumors
- Blood vessel defects
- Chronic consumption of alcohol or alcohol abuse
- Illegal drugs, including cocaine and amphetamines
- Side effects of certain medications, including immunosuppressants, NSAIDs, and oral contraceptives (the pill)
Dr Bhambure says, “Many people are unaware they have high blood pressure since there are no noticeable warning signs or symptoms. Only by measuring your blood pressure can you determine if you have high blood pressure.”
Also read: A naturopath explains how you can ward off hypertension naturally
Can high blood pressure increase the risk of a heart attack?
When you have high blood pressure, the heart has to work harder to pump blood. Your arteries may become less elastic as a result, which could harm them and reduce the amount of blood and oxygen getting to your heart. This can increase the risk of heart diseases such as chest pain (angina), heart attack, heart failure, and even stroke. “You should monitor your blood pressure and follow a healthy lifestyle if you want to lower your risk of developing such a serious cardiac problem,” suggests Dr Bhambure.
How to manage hypertension?
To manage hypertension, follow these tips shared by Dr Bhambure:
- Exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes a day
- Avoid excess consumption of alcohol, smoking, and caffeine
- Maintain sleep hygiene
- Eat a balanced diet excluding excess sodium
- Manage your stress levels through yoga, or meditation
- Eat more fruits and vegetables and less unhealthy fats
- Try to lose weight if you’re overweight
If a disease or medicine you take is the root of your high blood pressure, treating the underlying issue and asking your doctor to prescribe a different medication can help you manage your hypertension. However, if you’re a high BP due to your poor lifestyle, following these lifestyle changes can help you manage the condition. But it is not enough. So, consult your doctor to help you manage your hypertension condition effectively because, by lowering your blood pressure, you can help protect yourself from heart diseases.