How can you diagnose high blood pressure?
What we call blood pressure is the prevailing pressure in blood vessels. To arrive at the blood pressure a doctor will record both the highest pressure level and lowest level. This is normally done by a doctor using a mercury blood pressure metre known as a sphygmomanometer (mercury manometer). It is a simple, painless measurement technique.
There are several factors that affect your blood pressure measurement. These include:
- Frequent sickness
- Time of day
It is generally recommended to rest at least 15 minutes before you get your blood pressure tested.
There could be multiple factors that lead to high blood pressure. A truly alarming development of recent times is the increase of little children suffering from high blood pressure. There are two main categories of high blood pressure based on symptoms.
1. Primary high blood pressure
In most adults, there is no identifiable cause of high blood pressure.
2. Secondary high blood pressure
This type of high blood pressure is caused as a result of other sicknesses. There are various conditions that can lead to secondary high blood pressure such as kidney related diseases as well as diseases related to hormone-producing glands.
Out of the above, Kidney related diseases due to obesity have been identified as a common cause of high blood pressure in children.
Risk factors for high blood pressure
Women who still get their periods have a lower risk of contracting high blood pressure. It is mostly after the age of 50, after menopause that women have a higher chance of developing high blood pressure.
Even though high blood pressure can occur at any age, the risk increases as you grow older.
If either parent has high blood pressure, there is a risk that their children will also get it.
- Being overweight or obese
Obesity invites high blood pressure. Everyone should strive to maintain a BMI score of 23 or 24. If you exceed the score you are classified as being overweight.
Medicines that fall under NSAID (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) carry a high risk of causing high blood pressure:
- Smoking and consuming alcohol
- Lack of potassium in your diet
- High cholesterol
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to the following complications:
- The weakening of the heart: As a result of poor blood circulation the heart muscles end up becoming weakened
- Heart muscle disability: Abnormalities in blood circulation from the coronary artery results in the deactivation of heart muscles
- An air embolism, which is a bubble of air in the blood vessels
- Blood vessels become blocked and result in the patient having a stroke
- Damages to the retina of the eye, known as retinopathy
- Chronic kidney disease
- Damage to the pancreas
- Damage to the brain
- Damage to the bones
What should those at risk of high blood pressure do?
There are certain tests available for those who have family members who have suffered from high blood pressure or for those who smoke or consume alcohol, are diabetes patients or are cholesterol patients. These tests are:
- Urine full report (UFR)
- Blood urea (BU)
- Fasting blood sugar (FBS)
- Haemoglobin (PCV)
- Serum electrolytes (Na+, K+)
- Echo test
- CT scan
- Serum cholesterol to check the cholesterol in the blood
There are few medicines available to treat high blood pressure. Sometimes treatment is given through one type of medicine or through two or three types. Doctors will prescribe medicine based on your age, blood pressure measurement and any other complications you are currently suffering from. There are certain side effects of using this medication such as:
- Frequent urination
- Increased heartbeat
- Kidney diseases
How to prevent high blood pressure?
- Consume a balanced diet
- Avoid being overweight or obese
- Minimise salt intake
- Minimise caffeine intake
- Avoid consuming alcohol and smoking
- Practice mental wellness to prevent stress
Dr. Nandana Dikmadugoa
Castle Street Hospital for Women