Arterial hypertension: the silent killer

Arterial hypertension, as its name suggests, is the rise or increase in blood pressure above figures considered normal, i.e., figures above 140/90. In this case, it would be an appropriate figure taken at rest.

However, optimal hypertension should be between 130 and 135 systolic (high) and between 80 and 85 diastolic (low) depending on whether or not the patient has other associated pathologies.

How does hypertension affect?

Hypertension is an asymptomatic pathology, and in fact it is known as the silent killer. In the body, the organs are used to functioning at an adequate blood pressure, i.e., the blood reaches them at a certain pressure that leads to their optimal functioning.

When arterial hypertension exists, the blood not only reaches the organs with more pressure, but the inside of the arteries is also affected by the increase of this pressure. Therefore, high blood pressure not only affects the organs but also affects all the arteries in our body.

Depending on which organ is affected, you may have different conditions. For example, if hypertension affects the brain, this will result in a stroke. If it affects the heart, it usually results in a myocardial infarction?

In short, high blood pressure negatively affects all organs and arteries in our body.

What causes blood pressure to rise?

There are two types of hypertension. On the one hand, there is essential or idiopathic hypertension, which is suffered by about 90% of patients with hypertension.

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On the other hand, there is secondary arterial hypertension, which produces certain pathologies, such as hyperthyroidism, tumors or increased production of certain substances in the adrenal glands, or kidney affectations such as stenosis of the renal arteries.

However, idiopathic hypertension is caused by a combination of factors. These are environmental, genetic and, fundamentally, lifestyle factors, such as obesity, sedentary lifestyle, inadequate diet, smoking, excess alcohol…. All of these factors affect the development of arterial hypertension.

How can arterial hypertension be prevented?

The general healthy population should carry out primary prevention to avoid cardiovascular diseases.

Thus, the fundamental premise is based on these three points:

  • Eating a heart-healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle

Of course, alcohol and tobacco should be avoided. Avoiding alcohol does not mean that you cannot drink any alcohol at all, since a normal individual can have a beer or a drink from time to time, but it should be taken in “very, very” moderation.

How do we measure our blood pressure?

The way to control blood pressure is to regularly measure your blood pressure with an automatic forearm blood pressure monitor. As a general rule, healthy people should do this at least once every six months.

However, after a certain age – for example, women in the postmenopausal period and/or men over 60 years of age – should have their blood pressure checked at least once a month; in the case of hypertensive patients, it should be once a week, several times a day.

The correct blood pressure should be taken in a calm and quiet situation, with a forearm cuff (not a wrist cuff) and at the level of the heart. In addition, the measurement cannot be taken if you have eaten in the two hours prior to the measurement; it should be taken sitting down and without crossing your legs.

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To measure blood pressure correctly, it should be taken three times, sitting at least 5 minutes before the first measurement, the result of this first measurement will be disregarded. Five minutes later, it will be taken again, and after another five minutes it will be repeated. From these last two readings, an average will be taken to show the results of the blood pressure measurement.

How is hypertension treated?

Hypertension should be treated with medication and an appropriate lifestyle. The medication is very diverse, and it is not because you have to take several drugs that it will be more serious, but it will be more complicated to control, which is very often the case.

In addition to the drugs, complementary measures should be taken in terms of lifestyle modification, these are the same as in primary prevention, as already mentioned, it is a question of a healthy diet, exercise and abstention from tobacco and alcohol, in short, changing lifestyle habits, and of course regular medical check-ups.