DrSugar is in the house! This week she's schooling us on hypertension.
A recent study from the University of North Carolina found that about one in five young adults, between the ages 24 and 32, has high blood pressure, referred to as hypertension in medical terminology. The concerning part about this rise is that many of those at risk are unaware of this health issue, making this statistic extremely scary since hypertension is a medical condition that can have serious consequences. To learn more about hypertension and its medical consequences and how you can prevent hypertension, keep reading!
Hypertension, according to Medline Plus, is the term used to describe high blood pressure. Blood pressure consists of two measurements: the top number of blood pressure is the systolic blood pressure and the bottom number is diastolic blood pressure. Systolic pressure is considered high if it is higher than 140 most of the time and is considered normal if it is at 120 or below most of the time. Diastolic pressure is high if it is over 90 most of the time and is considered to be normal if it is below 80 most of the time.
Often, there is no identifying cause of hypertension, and this is called essential hypertension. When hypertension is actually caused by another medical condition, such as alcohol abuse, hardening of the arteries, chronic kidney disease, cocaine use, diabetes, endocrine disorders (involving the thyroid or adrenal glands), or medications (including appetite suppressants, birth control pills, steroids, and migraine medications), it is called secondary hypertension.
Generally speaking, hypertension does not cause any symptoms, which is why it can be hard for someone to tell that their blood pressure may be high, and why following up with your physician is so important on a regular basis. Symptoms that may occur include confusion, ear buzzing or noise, fatigue, headache, irregular heartbeat, nosebleed, or vision changes. If you have any of these symptoms or a severe headache, you should see your physician right away!
Hypertension is diagnosed by a physician by checking your blood pressure and likely repeating the measurements over time to confirm the diagnosis. Other tests may be done to make sure that there are no other complications in the heart, kidney, eyes, and other organs. Most of the time, high blood pressure can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes. However, if left untreated or poorly managed, serious complications can occur such as blood vessel damage, brain damage, congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease, heart attack, heart disease, pregnancy complications, stroke, and vision loss.
Prevention is the key to keeping yourself healthy and avoiding serious medical conditions. Adults over the age of 18 should have their blood pressure checked routinely to screen for hypertension. According to the Mayo Clinic, lifestyle changes can be taken to try to prevent hypertension, and these include avoiding tobacco use/smoking, not consuming more than one alcoholic drink a day for women (two a day for men), eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy while limiting saturated fat intake, decreasing the salt in your diet (young healthy people aim for 2,300 mg per day of sodium or less), exercising regularly, losing weight if you are overweight, and managing anxiety and stress.
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DrSugar's posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. Click here for more details.