Blood pressure is a term used to describe the measurement of force exerted by the blood against the walls of the blood vessels. The heart pumps pure blood through the arteries from the heart to different parts of the body. Elevated blood pressure is also known as hypertension. High blood pressure is considered as an abnormal condition as it makes it harder for the heart to pump blood from the heart to other parts of the body. This can lead to development of other conditions such as arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), stroke, kidney disease and heart failure.
In medical terms, blood pressure is expressed with a top number called as systolic pressure and a bottom number called as diastolic pressure. The standard unit for measuring blood pressure is mmHg. The clinical importance of blood pressure values are as follows:
- <120/80 mm/hg – Normal
- Between 120/80 to 139/89 mmHg – Prehypertension
- Between 140/90 to 159/99 mmHg – Stage 1 high blood pressure
- >160/100 mmHg – Stage 2 high blood pressure
- High blood pressure in people above 60 years of age : >150/90 mmHg
Under normal circumstances, it is advised to consult a physician when the blood pressure numbers are above or below the normal limits. In case of any major deviations from the normal blood pressure, it is a warning sign and requires immediate medical attention.
When to Worry about High Blood Pressure?
It is advised to seek medical advice immediately if the patient with high blood pressure does not respond to treatment prescribed by the doctor and the blood pressure still appears to be above normal limits. If 2 to 3 consecutive readings appear higher than normal, the condition needs to be evaluated as there may be other underlying conditions such as kidney issues, excess production of hormones, blood vessels blockage, thyroid issues etc. which makes one worry.
It is also advised to consult a physician at the earliest if symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, light-headedness, headache, nausea, visual disturbances, and confusion develop in association with elevation in blood pressure. These may occur due to side effects of certain medication or it may be due to drug interaction with other regular medication. It may be needed to evaluate the condition, followed by discontinuation of a medication, or change in dosage of a medication, or switching over to a newer medication.
Resistant high blood pressure or resistant hypertension is a condition where the blood pressure is above normal limits even after taking medication and lifestyle modification. It occurs in about 20 to 30 percent of cases diagnosed with hypertension. The most possible causes of this condition are as follows:
- Underlying Risk Factors for Resistant High Blood Pressure: Poor control of underlying conditions such as obesity and diabetes leads to high blood pressure.
- Irregular Medication: If the prescribed medications are not taken as directed; i.e. incorrect dosage of medication, skipping medication or discontinuing without physicians approval, it can lead to alteration in blood pressure.
- Intake of Salt and Alcohol: It has been seen that in people with high blood pressure, unrestricted intake of salt and alcohol can lead to further elevation of blood pressure.
- Drug Interaction: Certain over the counter drugs such as pain relievers, decongestants and certain herbal compounds interfere with high blood pressure control.
- Presence of Underlying Health Issue: Presence of certain medical conditions such as sleep apnea, adrenal disorder, kidney issues can also lead to resistant blood pressure.
If any of the causes of resistant blood pressure persists and the person encounters high blood pressure, it is a serious thing to be worried about and one must seek immediate medical help.
How to Control High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure is generally a treatable condition. In most of the cases, the following are recommended for controlling the high blood pressure:
- Quit smoking
- Encouraged to lose weight
- Limit alcohol and caffeine intake
- Exercise regularly and follow a healthy lifestyle
- Follow a healthy diet and limit salt intake in diet
- Reduce stress
In addition to the above, certain anti-hypertensive drugs may be prescribed by the doctor based on the condition of the patient.