Primary Hypertension: A Short Overview

November 12, 2012

Primary Hypertension: A Short Overview

The number of people suffering from primary hypertension is on the rise. Untreated blood pressure problems can lead to serious complications such as heart failure.

Primary hypertension is high blood pressure that has no definite cause. Secondary hypertension is when the blood pressure problems are caused in response to another condition like kidney disease. Because of the nature of primary blood pressure disorders, it is recommended that people attempt to address controllable risk factors. While heart disease used to be much more common in adults, younger people are starting to develop high blood pressure.

Risk Factors

Currently the exact cause of primary hypertension is unknown. Medical experts are not always sure what causes one person to develop blood pressure problems and not another. There are a number of risk factors that can increase the likelihood of someone developing hypertension but it is important to note that sometimes perfectly healthy individuals suffer from high blood pressure.

  • Family history- Unfortunately, people cannot control the genes they inherit. Studies show that at least fifty genes contribute to the development of blood pressure problems. If hypertension runs in your family, it is even more important to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

  • Obesity- Obesity is a growing problem among many developed countries. As a person puts on extra weight, the heart has to work harder to keep blood pumping flowing to all parts of the body. As the strain on the heart increases, the chances of developing high blood pressure will increase.

  • Gender/Age/Ethnicity- In general, men have a higher risk of developing blood pressure problems. Risk also increases as a person ages. Some races such as Caribbean and African have a higher chance for heart disease.

  • Diet- A heart healthy diet is important to preventing and controlling high blood pressure. Salt is one of the biggest culprits. The problem with salt is that it helps the body retain fluids. This fluid retention will cause an increase in blood pressure. People already suffering from hypertension will make their condition worse with high salt intake.

  • Non-active lifestyle- It can be hard for people to find time to exercise. Even as little as fifteen minutes of cardio a day can have a benefit affect on the heart. Sedentary lifestyles encourage an increase in weight and allow the heart muscle to get “weak.” The heart will not function at maximum potential which can lead to hypertension.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

One of the biggest problems with suffering from primary hypertension is that symptoms often don’t present themselves until the problem has been going on for a long period of time. During this time, the increased blood pressure can have severe and permanent effects on the body. The damage slowly being done to the body is what normally causes the signs and symptoms to appear:

  • Unexplained nosebleeds

  • Ringing in the ears

  • Vision problems such as blurring or double vision

  • Increase in number and severity of headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Measured blood pressure is higher than normal

  • Palpitations

Symptoms of general and can sometimes result from other conditions. If symptoms appear it is important to see your doctor so that the issue can be addressed. In the absence of any symptoms, make sure to have an annual physical so that primary hypertension can be recognized before it has a chance to cause damage.

Treating Primary Hypertension

High blood pressure has no definite cure or known cause. This can sometimes make it difficult to treat. Many doctors will look at any risk factors that the patient may possess. The most common method for controlling blood pressure is to make lifestyle changes. Increasing activity, losing weight, and eating a heart healthy diet can often result in significant blood pressure changes. This will help reduce the strain on the heart and will hopefully bring the person’s blood pressure back into normal ranges. In extreme cases, your healthcare professional may prescribe medications. It is always ideal to attempt to get blood pressure under control so that medication is not needed in the future.

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