Hypertension is when you have high blood pressure. This is a common chronic condition where your blood pressure levels remain elevated. This happens when the blood pumped by your heart is met by resistance in your arteries. Normally, your arteries are flexible and stretch to allow blood from the heart to flow. If your arteries develop a buildup of cholesterol or fatty tissue, they become less flexible. This is called hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis. The more resistance your blood meets as it enters the arteries, the higher your blood pressure becomes.
If you are struggling with obesity or are overweight, your chance for developing hypertension is increased. This is because increased body weight means that your body needs more blood to supply oxygen to your tissues. Increased blood volume and the need to push it further means your heart has to contract more forcefully or with greater pressure. Also, if you are overweight, you have higher levels of fatty tissues which may contribute to the increased resistance in your arteries.
Other risk factors for hypertension are:
- Family history
- Age (the older you are the more susceptible you are)
- Too much sodium (salt)
- Not enough Potassium
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Alcohol (copious amounts for a prolonged period of time)
- Tobacco use
What are the Symptoms of Hypertension?
In most cases, hypertension shows no symptoms. Appearance of symptoms usually means the hypertension is already quite advanced or severe.. These symptoms can include headaches, dizzy spells and excessive nosebleeds.
What are the Complications of Hypertension?
The increased pressure on your artery walls caused by hypertension can lead to damaged and weakened blood vessels as well as damage to other organs in your body. The damage caused by untreated hypertension can be dangerous and can lead to serious health complications such as:
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Kidney damage
- Blindness due to damaged blood vessels in your eyes
- Memory loss or confusion
- Metabolic syndrome that includes other chronic conditions
If you are overweight or obese, you are already at risk for many of the above conditions. It is a good idea to have your blood pressure checked regularly so that your chances of developing a serious heart condition are not further increased.
Treatment of Hypertension
If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, your doctor may prescribe you medications and recommend a series of lifestyle changes. Healthy diet and exercise are detrimental steps to the treatment of hypertension. If you have struggled with diet and weight loss in the past, you may want to look into medical weight loss. Medical weight loss allows you to work with a doctor and find an appropriate plan to help you maintain a healthier lifestyle and avoid future complications from hypertension.