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  • Writer's pictureAfferent Medical Solutions

Understanding Hypertension: The Silent Killer

Updated: Jun 18

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a widespread condition that can lead to serious health problems if not properly managed. Despite its prevalence, many people remain unaware they have hypertension due to its often-symptomless nature.


What is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure measures the force exerted by blood against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps. High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when this force is consistently too high. This can lead to severe health issues, such as heart disease and stroke, if not managed. Hypertension is categorized into five stages based on blood pressure readings:


  1. Healthy: Less than 120/80 mm Hg.

  2. Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 mm Hg and diastolic less than 80 mm Hg.

  3. Stage 1 Hypertension: Systolic between 130-139 mm Hg or diastolic between 80-89 mm Hg.

  4. Stage 2 Hypertension: Systolic 140 mm Hg or higher or diastolic 90 mm Hg or higher.

  5. Hypertensive Crisis: Systolic over 180 mm Hg or diastolic over 120 mm Hg, requiring immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of Hypertension

Often referred to as the "silent killer," hypertension usually does not produce noticeable symptoms until significant damage has occurred. When symptoms do appear, they may include:

  • Flushing

  • Dizziness

  • Blood spots in the eyes (subconjunctival hemorrhage)

Severe hypertension can sometimes cause headaches and nosebleeds, especially during a hypertensive crisis.


Causes of Hypertension

Hypertension can be classified into primary (essential) and secondary hypertension.


Primary Hypertension: This type develops gradually over many years and is influenced by factors such as:

  • Genetics: Family history can increase your risk.

  • Age: Risk increases with age, particularly after 65.

  • Race: Higher prevalence in Black non-Hispanic individuals.

  • Lifestyle: Factors like obesity, high alcohol consumption, a sedentary lifestyle, and high sodium intake can contribute.

  • Health Conditions: Conditions like diabetes and metabolic syndrome increase the risk.

Secondary Hypertension: This type appears suddenly and is often more severe. It can result from conditions such as:

  • Kidney disease

  • Obstructive sleep apnoea

  • Congenital heart defects

  • Thyroid problems

  • Medication side effects

  • Substance abuse

  • Adrenal gland issues

  • Certain endocrine tumours

Diagnosing Hypertension

Diagnosing hypertension involves taking regular blood pressure readings. Regular monitoring is crucial as blood pressure can fluctuate due to various factors, including stress and daily activities. If elevated readings persist, doctors may perform additional tests to rule out secondary causes and assess the impact on organs. These tests might include blood tests, electrocardiograms (EKGs), ultrasounds, and 24-hour blood pressure monitoring.


Treatment for Hypertension

Managing hypertension often involves a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. Common medications include:

  • ACE Inhibitors

  • Beta-Blockers

  • Diuretics


Lifestyle modifications play a crucial role in managing hypertension. These changes can include:

  • Diet: Reducing sodium intake and adopting a heart-healthy diet.

  • Exercise: Regular physical activity helps lower blood pressure.

  • Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce hypertension risk.

  • Limiting Alcohol: Reducing alcohol consumption helps manage blood pressure.

  • Stress Management: Techniques like meditation and deep breathing exercises can help control blood pressure.


In addition to these traditional methods, new wearable options are now emerging, such as Afferent Medical Solution’s innovative AffeX device. This wearable technology offers a non-invasive solution for reducing blood pressure through transcutaneous auricular stimulation, providing a convenient and effective alternative to conventional treatments.


Home Remedies and Lifestyle Tips

In addition to prescribed treatments, home remedies and lifestyle adjustments can significantly impact blood pressure management:

  • Monitor Blood Pressure: Regularly check your blood pressure at home and keep a record.

  • Healthy Eating: Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

  • Exercise Regularly: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days.

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Weight loss can significantly lower blood pressure in overweight individuals.

  • Limit Salt Intake: Reduce salt in your diet to help lower blood pressure.

  • Avoid Tobacco: Quit smoking to improve overall cardiovascular health.

  • Limit Alcohol: Drink in moderation to avoid raising blood pressure.

  • Manage Stress: Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine.


Pregnancy and Hypertension

Hypertension can pose risks during pregnancy, both for the mother and the baby. Pregnant women with hypertension need careful monitoring and management to prevent complications such as preeclampsia, which can lead to serious health issues.


Effects on the Body

Hypertension can cause damage to various organs over time, leading to complications such as:

  • Heart Disease: Increased risk of heart attacks and heart failure.

  • Stroke: Higher likelihood of stroke due to damaged blood vessels.

  • Kidney Damage: Can lead to kidney failure if not managed.

  • Eye Damage: Risk of vision loss due to damaged blood vessels in the eyes.

  • Brain: Hypertension can contribute to cognitive decline and dementia.


Conclusion

Hypertension is a common but manageable condition. Early detection and consistent management are key to preventing serious health complications. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options, individuals can take proactive steps to control their blood pressure and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Regular check-ups, medication adherence, and lifestyle adjustments can make a significant difference in managing hypertension effectively. With advancements in medical technology, such as wearable devices like AffeX, patients now have more tools at their disposal to manage their blood pressure effectively and improve their overall health.

 



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