Arterial hypertension, an avoidable threat

The heart pumps blood at a certain pressure so that it can reach, through the arteries, all the corners of our body. When this pressure is excessive, we speak of Arterial Hypertension (AHT).

The increase in pressure damages the walls of the arteries and forces the heart to excessive and useless work. As a consequence, the arteries deteriorate, harden, narrow and can close completely, so that the blood supply to many organs such as the brain, heart or kidneys can be severely compromised.

The heart is exhausted by the excess of work and by the deterioration of the arteries that nourish it: the coronary arteries. This leads to complications such as angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, heart failure, arrhythmias, stroke, renal failure or lack of blood supply to the legs. When other risk factors coexist in the same patient, such as smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity or a sedentary lifestyle, the situation described is much more serious.

In 5-10% of patients, HTN is the consequence of another disease, often treatable, which can be cured (secondary HTN). In the rest the cause is not identifiable (essential HT) and in these patients we can control their blood pressure and avoid complications to a large extent.

Diagnosis

For years, most people with HT are very well and do not seek medical help. AHT is almost always diagnosed by chance during a medical examination for other reasons. In some cases headaches, nosebleeds or conjunctival hemorrhages allow the diagnosis of ETS.

With the passage of time, the arrival of the complications of AHT, with shortness of breath, chest pains, palpitations, stroke, calf pain when walking, among many others, make the patient go to the doctor. Although it is never too late, a magnificent period of time has been lost in which many of these symptoms could have been avoided.

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Anyone with direct family members who have suffered from HT, heart disease or brain disease, and especially if they are smokers, overweight, sedentary, or have high blood glucose or cholesterol, should have their BP measured periodically. Even without this history, you should measure it at least every 4 or 5 years from the age of 40 and annually above 60.

Treatment

In all cases, you should improve your lifestyle habits. You should stop smoking, do regular non-strenuous exercise and modify your diet, increasing the consumption of legumes, fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats, poultry without skin, olive oil or nuts, trying to normalize your weight and waist circumference.

The prescribed medication should be taken regularly. It is good to measure your blood pressure at home with automatic devices, but do not become obsessed with it and change your medication moment by moment. BP gets out of control, with frequent and severe ups and downs, when medication is not taken regularly. If in doubt, you should consult your physician.

HT is a serious threat to your health, easily diagnosed and controlled in most cases. Do not wait for symptoms to monitor it. It is a chronic disease that requires prolonged treatment. Well controlled and detected early, its prognosis is excellent.