Welcome to the Hypertension Health Channel by eMedTV.
Hypertension (also known as high blood pressure) occurs when pressure inside the blood vessels is too high. Over time, the strain hypertension places on the heart and blood vessels can increase the risk of certain health problems, such as heart disease and kidney damage.
What Causes Hypertension?
Unfortunately, in 9 out of 10 cases, the causes of hypertension are unknown. This type of hypertension is called primary hypertension. Although not causes of hypertension, there are risk factors (such as being overweight) that increase a person's chances of developing the condition.
When the causes of hypertension are known, the condition is called secondary hypertension. Causes of secondary hypertension include preeclampsia, kidney disease, and sleep apnea. Other causes of hypertension include certain medications, such as birth control pills.
Does Stress Cause Hypertension?
Stress and hypertension are linked in many people's minds, but hypertension is not the same as "nervous tension." Many people who are calm and have no stress in their lives have hypertension. While short-term stress can cause blood pressure to go up for a while, the impact of long-term stress on hypertension is not currently known.
What Are the Symptoms of Hypertension?
Because the disease usually causes damage gradually -- over the course of several years -- most people with high blood pressure do not experience any symptoms of hypertension. When they are noticeable, symptoms may include blurred vision, dizziness, headache, and nausea. By the time symptoms are felt, serious damage may have already been done to body structures such as blood vessels, the heart, eyes, or brain.
If people do not seek medical care until their symptoms are severe, they may develop malignant hypertension, which generally requires emergency hospitalization. Symptoms of malignant hypertension include lightheadedness, nausea, and headache.
How Is Hypertension Treated?
Treatment for hypertension often begins with lifestyle changes. Losing weight, exercising more, drinking less alcohol, and cutting back on salt are lifestyle changes that may be part of your hypertension treatment.
While these lifestyle changes may be enough for some people, others may require medications, such as diuretics, to treat their hypertension. Other hypertension medications include calcium channel blockers and nervous system inhibitors.
Will a Specific Diet Help Hypertension?
Recent studies have shown that by following a hypertension diet, blood pressure can be lowered by an amount similar to that seen with medication. This diet for hypertension (known as "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension" or DASH) includes poultry, fish, whole grains, and nuts, and has reduced amounts of red meat, fats, sweets, and sugared beverages.