Hypertension: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Hypertension: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Hypertension is yet another name for hypertension. It can cause severe problems in health and may raise the risk of heart disease, stroke, and sometimes death.

Blood pressure is the force exerted by a person’s blood against their blood vessel walls. This pressure depends on the blood vessel’s resistance, and how much the heart has to pump.

Nearly half of all adults in the U.S. have elevated blood pressure but many are not aware of this.

Hypertension is a major cardiovascular disease risk factor including stroke, heart attack, heart failure and aneurysm. Preserving blood pressure under control is vital to preserving safety and reducing the risk of these hazardous conditions.

In this article we clarify why blood pressure will increase, how it can be controlled and how it can be kept within normal range.

Management and treatment

The normal, first-line treatment for hypertension is lifestyle changes. A few guidelines are listed here:

Regular physical exercise

The people can use a sphygmomanometer to measure blood pressure.
The people can use a sphygmomanometer to measure blood pressure.

Current guidelines suggest that all individuals, including those with hypertension, participate in moderate intensity exercise of at least 150 minutes, aerobic exercise every week, or high intensity exercise of 75 minutes a week.

People should work out at least 5 days a week.

Examples of proper practices include walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming.

Reduce stress

Avoiding or learning how to manage stress will help control blood pressure in a person.

Meditation, warm baths, yoga and simply going on long walks are methods of relaxation which can help relieve stress.

People should avoid the use of alcohol, recreational drugs, cigarettes, and junk foods to cope with stress, as these can lead to increased blood pressure and hypertensive complications.

Smoking will raise blood pressure. Eviting or stopping smoking reduces the risk of obesity, severe heart attacks and other health problems.


Individuals may be using different drugs to treat hypertension. At first, doctors will often prescribe a small dose. Antihypertensive medicines usually have only minor side effects.

People with hypertension will likely need to incorporate two or more drugs to control their blood pressure.

Hypertension Drugs include:

  • diuretics, including thiazides, chlorthalidone, and indapamide
  • beta-blockers and alpha-blockers
  • calcium-channel blockers
  • central agonists
  • peripheral adrenergic inhibitor
  • vasodilators
  • angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • angiotensin receptor blockers

Medication choices rely on the patient and on any underlying medical conditions they may encounter.

Anyone on antihypertensive drugs should carefully read the labels of any over- the-counter (OTC) products that they may also take, such as decongestants. These OTC medicines can interfere with the medications they take to lower blood pressure.


High blood pressure can be avoided by people following a heart healthy diet.

Limiting salt consumption

The average salt intake of the citizens in most countries around the world is between 9 grams (g) and 12 g per day.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is suggesting limiting intake to below 5 g per day to help reduce the risk of hypertension and related health issues.

Reducing salt intake can benefit people with hypertension as well as those without.

Moderating alcohol intake

Moderate to excessive drinking will increase blood pressure.

For men, and one for women, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a limit of two alcoholic drinks per day.

One drink will count as follows:

  • a 12-ounce (oz) bottle of beer
  • 4 oz of wine
  • 1.5 oz of 80-proof spirits
  • 1 oz of 100-proof spirits

When they find it difficult to control their alcohol intake, a healthcare provider may help people reduce their consumption.

Consuming more fruit and vegetables and less fat

People with high blood pressure or people at high risk of developing high blood pressure will eat as little saturated and total fat as possible.

Instead, experts recommend:

  • whole grain, high fiber foods
  • a variety of fruit and vegetables
  • beans, pulses, and nuts
  • fish rich in omega-3 twice a week
  • nontropical vegetable oils, for example, olive oil
  • skinless poultry and fish
  • low fat dairy products

The avoidance of trans fats, hydrogenated vegetable oils and animal fats, as well as large portion sizes is important .

Many fats have protective effects on the skin, such as those found in oily fish and olive oil. There are still fats, though. Though usually healthy, people at risk of hypertension should still include them in total fat intake.

Managing body weight

Hypertension can be caused by excess body weight. A reduction in blood pressure usually results in weight loss, because the heart doesn’t have to work so hard to pump blood around the body.

A balanced diet with an intake of calories that suits the height, age and level of activity of the person can help.

The DASH diet

To people with high blood pressure, the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommends the DASH diet.

DASH stands to “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” DASH is a versatile and healthy eating program that is strongly rooted in NHLBI studies to prescribe the diet to:

  • lowers high blood pressure
  • improves levels of fats in the bloodstream
  • reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease

The NHLBI publishes a cookbook called Keep the Beat Recipes, which offers recipes for meals to help lower blood pressure.

Research from 2014 indicates humans with hypertension can benefit from using probiotic supplements for 8 weeks or more.


The cause of the high blood pressure is often unclear. In many instances it is the product of a disease underlying it.

Doctors call high blood pressure, which is not primary or critical hypertension due to another disease or illness.

If an underlying condition causes the blood pressure to increase, doctors call this secondary hypertension.

Primary hypertension can be due to several factors, including:

  • blood plasma volume
  • hormone activity in people who manage blood volume and pressure using medication
  • environmental factors, such as stress and lack of exercise

Secondary hypertension has specific causes and is another health problem that is complicated.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a common cause of high blood pressure because the kidneys do not pump out fluid any longer. The excess fluid leads to high blood pressure.

Symptoms which can cause hypertension include:

  • diabetes, due to kidney problems and nerve damage
  • kidney disease
  • pheochromocytoma, a rare cancer of an adrenal gland
  • Cushing syndrome that corticosteroid drugs can cause
  • congenital adrenal hyperplasia, a disorder of the cortisol-secreting adrenal glands
  • hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland
  • hyperparathyroidism, which affects calcium and phosphorous levels
  • pregnancy
  • sleep apnea
  • obesity

Risk factors

The risk of hypertension rises with a number of factors.

  • Age: Hypertension is more common in people over age 60. Over age, blood pressure will increase slowly as the arteries become rigid and narrow due to plaque buildup.
  • Ethnicity: Many ethnic groups are more likely than others to get hypertension. For example, African Americans have a higher risk compared with other ethnic groups.
  • Size and weight: The primary risk factor for being overweight or obese.
  • Drug and tobacco use: Blood pressure can rise if you frequently consume large amounts of alcohol or tobacco.
  • Sex: The males have a higher risk of developing hypertension than females, according to a 2018 report. This is, however, only until a

Other risk factors include:

  • sedentary lifestyle
  • salt rich, high fat diet
  • low potassium intake

Poorly managed stress and a family history of high blood pressure can also lead to the likelihood that hypertension can develop.

Below is a fully interactive, 3-D model of hypertension.

Explore the layout using your mouse pad or touchscreen to get more insight into hypertension.


A person with hypertension may not notice any symptoms and so people often call it the “silent killer.” Hypertension can damage the heart, blood vessels, and other organs, such as the kidneys, without detection.

Testing the blood pressure periodically is necessary.

High blood pressure in rare and severe cases causes sweating, anxiety, trouble sleeping and blushing. Most people with hypertension, however, will experience absolutely no symptoms.

If high blood pressure turns into a hypertensive crisis, a person can suffer headaches and nosebleeds.


Long-term hypertension can cause complications via atherosclerosis, where plaque forms on blood vessel walls and narrows them.

This narrowing aggravates hypertension, as the heart has to pump harder to circulate.

Atherosclerosis linked to hypertension can lead to:

  • heart failure and heart attacks
  • aneurysm, or abnormal bulge in the wall of an artery that can burst
  • kidney failure
  • stroke
  • amputation
  • hypertensive retinopathies in the eye, which can lead to blindness

Constant control of the blood pressure may help people avoid these more serious complications.


A blood pressure monitor, or sphygmomanometer, may help people keep track of their blood pressure.

A visit by a doctor is not always necessary for monitoring the blood pressure.

Having short period of high blood pressure can be a normal response to many situations. For example, acute stress and intense exercise can briefly raise blood pressure in someone who is otherwise healthy.

For this reason, a diagnosis of hypertension requires multiple readings, which over time show sustained high blood pressure.

In November 2017, the AHA released recommendations describing hypertension as blood pressure regularly greater than 130 over 80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

The 130 mmHg systolic reading refers to the pressure as the heart pumps blood all around the body. The 80 mmHg diastolic reading refers to pressure as the heart relaxes and with blood refills.

The AHA guidelines for 2017 describe the following blood pressure ranges:

Systolic (mmHg)Diastolic (mmHg)
Normal blood pressureLess than 120Less than 80
ElevatedBetween 120 and 129Less than 80
Stage 1 hypertensionBetween 130 and 139Between 80 and 89
Stage 2 hypertensionAt least 140At least 90
Hypertensive crisisOver 180Over 120

If reading suggests a hypertensive condition, wait 2 to 3 minutes and retake the test afterwards.

This indicates a medical emergency if the reading is the same or higher.

The person should be at the nearest hospital seeking immediate assistance.


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