Why is it So Hard to Curb Hypertension?
Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is a chronic medical condition where the force of the blood flowing through the arteries is consistently high. This pressure can cause damage to the arteries, heart, and other vital organs of the body if left untreated. Hypertension is a common problem, affecting millions of people worldwide, and is a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases. In this blog, we will explore why it is so hard to curb hypertension and what you can do if you have uncontrolled hypertension.
What is Hypertension?
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries as the heart pumps blood throughout the body. Hypertension occurs when this pressure is consistently too high, which makes the heart work harder than it should and can cause damage to the blood vessels and other organs.
Normal blood pressure is defined as a systolic pressure of less than 130 mmHg and a diastolic pressure of less than 85 mmHg. Hypertension is defined as a systolic pressure of 140 mmHg or higher and/or a diastolic pressure of 90 mmHg or higher. Blood pressure readings between 130-139 mmHg systolic and more than 85 mmHg diastolic are considered high normal blood pressure, which increases the risk of developing hypertension in the future.
Why Do People Get Hypertension?
There is no single cause of hypertension, but there are several factors that can increase the risk of developing the condition. These include:
- Age: The risk of hypertension increases as we age.
- Family history: Genetics can play a role in developing hypertension.
- Poor diet: A diet high in salt, saturated fats, and processed foods can increase the risk of hypertension.
- Lack of physical activity: Sedentary lifestyles increase the risk of hypertension.
- Obesity: Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of hypertension.
- Smoking: Smoking damages blood vessels and can increase the risk of hypertension.
How to Treat Hypertension
Hypertension can be managed through lifestyle changes, medication, or a combination of both. Lifestyle changes that can help lower blood pressure include:
- A healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products can help lower blood pressure.
- Exercise: Regular physical activity can help lower blood pressure.
- Weight loss: Losing weight can help lower blood pressure.
- Limiting alcohol intake: Drinking alcohol in moderation can help lower blood pressure.
- Reducing salt intake: Too much salt can raise blood pressure, so limiting salt intake can help lower blood pressure.
If lifestyle changes alone are not enough to lower blood pressure, medication may be necessary. There are several types of medication used to treat hypertension, including:
- Diuretics: These medications help the kidneys remove excess water and salt from the body, which can help lower blood pressure.
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors: These medications relax blood vessels, which can help lower blood pressure.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs): These medications block the action of a hormone called angiotensin II, which can help lower blood pressure.
- Calcium channel blockers: These medications relax blood vessels, which can help lower blood pressure.
Why is it so Hard to Treat Hypertension?
Despite the availability of effective treatments for hypertension, it can be challenging to manage the condition. There are several reasons why this is the case, including:
- Lack of symptoms: Hypertension is often called the “silent killer” because it does not usually cause symptoms until it reaches severe levels. Without apparent symptoms, hypertension may go unnoticed for a long time. Even in people with known hypertension, the drive to achieve blood pressure control in the absence of symptoms may be low. Worldwide, hypertension has been called the 50% disease: 50% have it; 50% of those who have it know they have it; 50% of those are receiving treatment, and 50% of treated patients have controlled blood pressure.
- Non-adherence to medication: Many people with hypertension are not disciplined when taking their medicine. Only medication properly taken will have proper effect. The reasons are manifold. Again, absence of symptoms is often a reason. Others relate to the side effects of medication- here, a specialist may help to choose the optimal treatment.
- No proper management of hypertension: Many factors can affect our blood pressure. If the treatment offered by a family physician does not meet with success, input from a hypertension specialist may be required to achieve control of blood pressure and associated risk factors.
In conclusion, hypertension is a chronic condition that can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes. However, it can be challenging to treat and requires ongoing management to reduce the risk of complications. By working closely with a healthcare provider and making healthy choices, people with hypertension can successfully manage their blood pressure and improve their overall health.
1) What are the symptoms of hypertension?
Hypertension often has no symptoms until it reaches severe levels. Some people with hypertension may experience headaches, shortness of breath, or nosebleeds.
2) How is hypertension diagnosed?
Hypertension is diagnosed by measuring blood pressure with a cuff around the upper arm. A blood pressure reading of 130/80 mmHg or higher is considered hypertension.
3) Can hypertension be prevented?
Hypertension can be prevented or delayed through lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, limiting alcohol intake, and reducing stress.
4) What are the complications of untreated hypertension?
Untreated hypertension can lead to serious health complications, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and vision loss.
5) What are the lifestyle changes that can help lower blood pressure?
Lifestyle changes that can help lower blood pressure include a healthy diet, regular exercise, weight loss, limiting alcohol intake, and reducing salt intake.
6) How long does it take to see results from lifestyle changes or medication for hypertension?
It can take several weeks to see results from lifestyle changes or medication for hypertension. Consistency and adherence to the treatment plan are key to achieving and maintaining lower blood pressure.
7) Can stress cause hypertension?
Stress can temporarily raise blood pressure, but it is not a direct cause of hypertension. However, chronic stress can lead to unhealthy behaviors that increase the risk of developing hypertension, such as overeating, lack of exercise, and excessive alcohol consumption.
8) Are there any natural remedies for hypertension?
Some natural remedies, such as meditation, relaxation techniques, and herbal supplements, may help lower blood pressure. However, it is important to talk to a healthcare provider before using any natural remedies, as they can interact with medication or have potential side effects.
9) How often should blood pressure be checked for someone with hypertension?
For someone with hypertension, blood pressure should be checked regularly, as recommended by their healthcare provider. This may be every few months to every year, depending on their blood pressure level and other health factors.
10) Can hypertension be cured completely or is it a lifelong condition?
Hypertension is a chronic condition that may require lifelong management. While it can often be controlled with lifestyle changes and medication, it cannot be cured completely.
About Dr Adrian Mondry
Dr Adrian Mondry is a Hypertension Specialist accredited by the German Hypertension League in Singapore. He was previously a senior consultant in the department of medicine at the National University Hospital and Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH), Dr Mondry has more than 30 years of experience in the field of internal medicine.
Dr Adrian Mondry is recognised for his leadership and contributions in establishing the dedicated hypertension clinic within the National University Health System and fast-track deep vein thrombosis service at NTFGH.
Dr Adrian Mondry is fluent in English, German and French.
About Kaizen Medical
Kaizen Medical is located at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, Suite 11-57.
At Kaizen, we provide in depth health care to patients with multi-organs diseases; tackling undifferentiated presentations that cannot be easily assigned to a single organ.