Detection and prevention of arterial hypertension

Arterial hypertension is the abnormally high pressure in the arteries that appears in many people and can produce serious vascular complications, especially in the brain, heart and kidneys. Prof. Dr. Rodriguez Rodrigo, specialist in Cardiology, talks about how this disease affects the body.

What is arterial hypertension?

Arterial hypertension is defined as a figure higher than 140 mmHg of systolic pressure and 90 mmHg of diastolic pressure (maximum and minimum, as they are colloquially called) in adults. These normal pressure levels are applicable to the general population but there are subgroups of people, such as diabetics or kidney patients, in whom it is considered necessary that their blood pressure does not exceed 130/80 mmHg.

Causes of arterial hypertension

Arterial hypertension is due, in most cases, to a progressive stiffening of the arterial wall, which usually accompanies age and causes an increase in pressure within the arterial circuit. There is a genetic substrate that can determine an early onset of arterial hypertension. Finally, there are secondary causes such as endocrinological problems (adrenal tumors) or vascular problems (coarctation of the aorta), among many others, that must be ruled out, especially in younger hypertensive patients. Identifying these secondary causes can allow their treatment and make hypertension disappear.

How arterial hypertension affects day-to-day life

Arteriosclerosis equals high blood pressure in terms of time of evolution and this disease is usually the main cause of most vascular accidents, strokes, myocardial infarction and kidney failure. Until the onset of complications, it is a silent chronic disease, like diabetes, although it can sometimes cause nonspecific symptoms such as headache or a feeling of instability. Because of its serious impact on cardiovascular health, it should be detected early in routine check-ups, which should be done regularly from the age of 40.

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Habits to be adopted by people suffering from arterial hypertension

Hygienic dietary measures are essential, including weight control, using the Mediterranean diet model, rich in salads, vegetables, legumes, fruits and fish. It is also important to consume a diet low in saturated fats, sugars, salt and distilled alcoholic beverages. Likewise, abstention from smoking and regular physical exercise are key.

Tips to avoid arterial hypertension

In general, by leading a healthy life with an adequate dietary pattern avoiding caloric excesses, regular physical exercise and abstention from smoking. It is also essential to detect hypertension early in health examinations (especially in younger people and those with a family history), to investigate secondary causes and to ensure the patient’s loyalty to medication, when it is necessary to use it.