Essential hypertension (high blood pressure)

Chest | Cardiology | Essential hypertension (high blood pressure) (Disease)


The top number, the systolic blood pressure, corresponds to the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts and pumps blood forward into the arteries. The bottom number, the diastolic pressure, represents the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes after the contraction. The diastolic pressure reflects the lowest pressure to which the arteries are exposed.

Hypertension usually produces no symptoms. This means most people don’t even realise they have it. Experts recommend that everyone should have their blood pressure checked regularly (preferably yearly).

However, symptoms may develop when the blood pressure changes rapidly or become very high. The first symptoms of worsening hypertension may include headaches, blurry vision, dizziness, nausea, and mild fatigue. As hypertension worsens, symptoms may progress to worsening headaches, worsening vision problems, and palpitations.

Causes and Risk factors

Essential hypertension (also called primary hypertension or idiopathic hypertension) is the form of hypertension that by definition, has no identifiable cause. It is the most common type of hypertension, affecting 95% of hypertensive patients, it tends to be familial and is likely to be the consequence of an interaction between environmental and genetic factors. Prevalence of essential hypertension increases with age, and individuals with relatively high blood pressure at younger ages are at increased risk for the subsequent development of hypertension. Hypertension can increase the risk of cerebral, cardiac, and renal events.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Blood pressure is measured with a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope by a nurse or other healthcare provider. A person cannot take his or her own blood pressure unless an electronic blood pressure monitoring device is used.

Treatment for hypertension includes a low salt diet, avoiding smoking and secondary smoke, exercise, weight reduction for obesity, and medications to control blood pressure. Rarely, surgery may be required to treat some causes of hypertension. ...

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