This condition accounts for 95% of people with hypertension and tends to develop gradually over time. It is important not to underestimate this condition as essential hypertension can lead to dangerous health complications.
What is Essential Hypertension? Recognizing the signs
Essential Hypertension, also referred to as Primary Hypertension, is a type of high blood pressure that cannot be attributed to a specific cause. When the blood pressure levels are within the normal range, the blood exerts a force on the arterial walls as the heart pumps blood to the organs throughout the body. Hypertension occurs when this force is higher than normal.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Health, the majority of hypertension cases are classified as essential hypertension. This condition can affect individuals of all ages and genders but is more commonly seen in middle-aged individuals. However, the symptoms of primary hypertension are often rare, making it difficult to detect.
Many individuals with essential hypertension may be unaware of their condition until they experience related complications such as chest pain or stroke. Therefore, individuals at risk of developing high blood pressure should regularly monitor their blood pressure levels.
In some cases, individuals with essential hypertension may experience symptoms such as:
- Persistent fatigue and headaches.
- Shortness of breath.
Is Essential Hypertension dangerous?
Untreated or improperly managed Essential Hypertension can lead to various dangerous complications, including potential fatalities. Some notable complications include:
When the body is healthy, the arteries function normally, allowing blood to flow to various parts of the body. Prolonged high blood pressure can cause the arteries to become stiffer, less elastic, and permanently damaged. This can lead to blockages and gradually restrict blood flow, resulting in increased blood pressure and potentially dangerous conditions such as stroke.
Consistently elevated blood pressure levels put excessive strain on the heart when it has to work harder. The increased pressure on the blood vessels requires the heart to pump more forcefully and for longer periods, leading to the enlargement of the heart and disruption of normal heart rhythm. In some cases, this can result in chest pain, heart failure, or even sudden cardiac death.
Adverse effects on the brain
Both hypertension in general and Essential Hypertension, in particular, can reduce the blood supply to the brain, leading to transient ischemic attacks (mini-strokes). Prolonged blood flow obstruction can cause brain cell death and potentially dangerous complications such as stroke.
Other potential complications
In certain cases, excessively high blood pressure can increase pressure on the kidneys, leading to renal dysfunction. Essential Hypertension can also contribute to visual impairment, retinal hemorrhage, coronary artery disease, and impaired memory function.
It is important to diagnose and properly manage Essential Hypertension to minimize the risk of these dangerous complications. Regular monitoring of blood pressure, adopting a healthy lifestyle, and following medical advice are crucial for managing this condition effectively.
Diagnosing Essential Hypertension
Regular blood pressure monitoring is crucial for maintaining health and closely monitoring the blood pressure status of individuals. To diagnose Essential Hypertension, doctors typically perform a blood pressure measurement using a blood pressure monitor. If the readings exceed the normal range, the patient is usually instructed to self-monitor their blood pressure at home at different times. Blood pressure measurements are typically expressed as a fraction, with mmHg being the unit of measurement. The accurate determination of blood pressure involves the following steps:
- The first number displayed on the screen represents the systolic blood pressure.
- The second number immediately following it represents the diastolic blood pressure.
- Blood pressure readings can fluctuate due to factors such as exercise, stress, or fatigue.
- Therefore, the final diagnosis is based on the average of multiple blood pressure measurements. A diagnosis of high blood pressure is typically made if the measurements consistently exceed the ideal range on three separate occasions.
In addition, healthcare providers may request certain necessary tests when there are signs of Essential Hypertension:
- Cholesterol testing: This helps assess the cholesterol levels in the blood, whether they are within the normal range or elevated.
- Echocardiogram: Doctors use ultrasound waves to examine the condition of the heart for any abnormalities.
- Electrocardiogram: This method records detailed electrical activity of the heart in patients.
- Other functional tests: Urine analysis, blood tests, renal ultrasound to assess kidney function, as well as evaluating the functioning of other organs in the body.
Treatment and Prevention of Essential Hypertension
Due to the difficulty in accurately determining the underlying cause of Essential Hypertension, in many cases, only the symptoms can be managed without completely curing the condition. Therefore, the advice given by doctors to patients with Essential Hypertension is to combine prescribed treatments with adhering to a healthy lifestyle to effectively control the symptoms.
Lifestyle modifications play a crucial role in managing high blood pressure and maintaining stable blood pressure levels, promoting overall resilience. A scientifically balanced diet and regular exercise habits bring numerous health benefits. Therefore, doctors recommend the following:
- Regular exercise: Whether you are healthy or not, engaging in physical activity for at least 30 minutes every day is highly recommended. Some suitable activities for individuals with high blood pressure include yoga, walking, swimming, cycling, and gentle jogging.
- Maintain a stable weight: According to statistics, being overweight significantly increases the risk of developing hypertension-related conditions. Therefore, it is important to maintain a BMI (Body Mass Index) within the range of 18.5 to 22.9.
- Limit sodium intake: Patients should adopt a low-sodium diet and incorporate fiber-rich foods such as vegetables and fresh fruits. Additionally, whole grain products, low-fat dairy, and lean meats are beneficial for individuals with Essential Hypertension.
- Stress management: Chronic stress from work or daily life is a common contributor to high blood pressure, particularly among younger individuals. Patients should learn techniques for emotional control, fostering a positive and relaxed mindset.
- Regular health check-ups: Regardless of whether you have Essential Hypertension or not, it is important to undergo health check-ups twice a year. Regular medical examinations help detect any abnormal signs or symptoms promptly.
If the above measures fail to stabilize blood pressure readings, doctors may prescribe antihypertensive medications. The specific dosage and type of medication vary depending on the individual’s condition and response to treatment. To ensure effective treatment, patients must adhere to the following principles:
Take prescribed antihypertensive medications as directed by the doctor. Avoid prolonged use of medications without regular re-evaluation by a healthcare professional. Do not discontinue or change medications without the consent of a doctor. In cases where blood pressure rises above 180/110 mmHg, it is an extremely dangerous red flag. Patients should seek immediate medical attention from specialized healthcare facilities to minimize the risk of severe complications.
Early detection and proper management of Essential Hypertension can help prevent dangerous complications. Therefore, individuals should pay close attention to their bodies and regularly monitor their blood pressure levels to maintain good overall health.
John Alen was born in 1971 and is a doctor in the healthcare and psychology fields with many years of experience. He is currently working at easyhealthylive.com, a leading health and psychology blog. Having studied at Y1 National Medical University named after IM Sechenov, John Alen is using his knowledge and experience to help improve the physical and mental health of people in the United States.