HYPERTENSION: causes, risks and symptoms
In 2013 the World Health Organization (WHO) held the World Health Day with the topic of hypertension. The slogan was: “Measure the pressure, reduce the risk”. Already 5 years ago the problem of high blood pressure was posed as a problem with an exponential increase both in Italy and in the world. As early as 5 years ago, WHO had estimated that hypertension affects one in three adults, aged 25 and over. Years later, the number of hypertensives in Italy and in the world is growing even more worrying, bringing about 9 million deaths following a cardiovascular event caused by high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for cardiovascular events. But let’s see together to clarify some basic concepts.
WHAT IS ARTERIAL PRESSURE?
Basically it is the force with which the heart must pump blood into our arteries.
If the “hydraulic circuit” of our arteries opposes resistance to the passage of blood then the pressure will increase accordingly and the heart will be forced to pump with greater force to let the blood enter an already high pressure circuit.
Blood pressure is, therefore, a force whose result depends on a series of factors that come into play:
- How much blood is put into the circulation and its viscosity ( fluidity )
- How much contraction force can the heart put ( cardiac output )
- How many resistance forces will meet the blood as it passes through the vessels
In addition to these three components, both blood pressure and the whole cardiovascular system, they must also respond to external nervous and hormonal stimuli, which also control their progress.
ARTERIAL PRESSURE: normal values
We must never think of our pressure as something that, during our day, always has the same constant value over time. All this would not be physiological for our body! The pressure fluctuates, has slight fluctuations during the day, and during the night. As we have already said, blood pressure has to deal with a whole series of internal and external regulation systems. One of the most important is the circadian rhythm, a rhythm that our body follows to stay healthy and that manifests itself with the rhythmic variation of many clinical parameters such as pressure, temperature, blood sugar etc.
This circadian rhythm is repeated every day and relatively in the morning following the production of our endogenous cortisol that makes us wake up and face the day there is an increase in blood sugar and blood pressure values. This is why we often have high blood pressure in the morning while in the evening the release of melatonin prepares us for the night and the pressure drops by 10-20% compared to the values of the day.
So when can we consider normal?
in an adult, healthy and in good physical condition, the optimal blood pressure values are around 120/80 mmHg. To date, the European Guidelines have even established that above 130/80 mmHg a subject can already be defined as hypertensive ( pre-hypertension ). The first value, the maximum or systolic, corresponds to the moment when the heart pumps blood into the arteries; the second value, minimal or diastolic, is when the heart relaxes to fill up again. It is possible to find cases d in which only one of the values is high and the other within the limits, such as in isolated systolic hypertension (maximum high pressure) or in isolated diastolic hypertension (minimum high pressure).
HYPERTENSION: what is meant?
By the time we measure pressure and our values are above 130/80, today we can already be called hypertensive subjects. It must also be said, however, that usually, to confirm the diagnosis of hypertension, measurements must be made at least in a shorter or longer period. Usually it is recommended to keep a diary and measure your blood pressure at the same times (morning and evening) and in the same physical conditions. With this pressure diary the doctor will have the necessary information to evaluate the situation and possibly prescribe diagnostic investigations.
CAUSES OF HIGH PRESSURE
What can a pressure with high values be traced back to? Finding specific causes of hypertension is not entirely easy since in reality they are only able to identify in 10% of the subjects. Most hypertensive people (90%) are to be traced back to the definition of essential hypertension , in which we do not find a known and specific cause, but it is mainly linked to lifestyle and nutrition.
There are factors that can facilitate the rise in pressure, especially in cases where you are already predisposed to the disease. These factors are attributable to lifestyle and are:
- diet rich in sodium (salt), smoking, alcohol, a particularly sedentary lifestyle, overweight and obesity, type II diabetes, increased stress, vitamin or mineral deficiencies.
Instead, in 10% of the hypertensive population specific problems can be identified which if resolved can definitively eliminate the problem of high blood pressure and these are:
- kidney disease,
- Primitive hyperaldosteronism,
- Cushing syndrome,
- Aortic coarctation,
- side effects of drugs (contraceptives, cortisone, etc)
The search for these possible causes should be done when hypertension is diagnosed for the first time, just to avoid having to take an antihypertensive drug when not needed and when in reality the right cure could be completely different
SYMPTOMS OF HIGH PRESSURE: what are they?
Hypertension is generally asymptomatic. It is precisely for this reason that it is called the silent killer! In most cases it does not produce particular effects on our state of health, as it is generated by mechanisms that work slowly but progressively day after day.
Think of hypertension as small gears that work continuously and silently within our bodies to the detriment of our health without our realizing it. That’s why most hypertensive people don’t know they are, and they happen to notice it when one day they decide to measure their blood pressure.
The only way to find out that you are hypertensive is to measure your blood pressure periodically
In some cases, high blood pressure occurs with:
- Frequent headache
- Mental confusion
- Nose bleeding
- Sense of tightness in the head
- Defects in the visus (vision of flying flies or twinkling flashes)
- Ear hums
High blood pressure is a risk factor that opens the doors to stroke and heart attack and in most cases, it is necessary to prevent and treat it by avoiding all those lifestyle-related behaviors that favor its onset.
The mistakes you can make are always around the corner and in this video you will find 2 examples that can be useful.