Think of High Blood Pressure as a pressure gauge for your tires (blood vessels). It is a measurement of the amount of pressure in your vessels. If the pressure gets to low (hypotension) it causes a flat. If the pressure gets to high (hypertension) it causes the tire to eventually pop.
What is High Blood Pressure??
The medical name for high blood pressure is hypertension, which means high tension on vessels. Blood pressure is the amount of fluid in the vessels and the stiffness of the vessel.
An increase in fluid or a increase in the stiffness of a blood vessel can causes the heart to work harder.
Imagine which is harder to pump….1 cup of water through a pipe or 1-2 gallons of water through a straw. In this analogy someone with high blood pressure is having to pump the 1-2 gallons of water through a straw.
- Normal Blood Pressure: Systolic (Top number) 120/ Diastolic (Bottom number) 80. Your doing a Good job keep it up.
- Pre-Hypertension: 120-129/80-89. This is a Warning sign. You should diet, exercise, eliminate stress and stressors (alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs)
- Hypertension stage 1: 130-139/ 80-89. You probably will be diagnosed and medications may be given.
- Hypertension stage 2: 140-159/90-99. At these numbers your affecting your organs. You may need more than one type of medication
- Hypertensive crisis: 160 or greater /100 or greater. You need immediate attention. (emergency room/urgent care).
Categories of High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
High Blood pressure can be broken down into two main causes. Primary which means nobody knows why you have it. Secondary which means there is a cause.
Primary hypertension occurs in up to 90% of all cases of high blood pressure. This type of high blood pressure is often the result of damage that has built up over years. . This type of high blood pressure usually has no symptoms and is often called the silent killer.
Secondary causes of high blood pressure include; hormone issues, vascular (blood vessel issues), medications, and miscellaneous (other).
Causes of High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
Hormone issues: include issues with the hormone named aldosterone which controls the amount of salt and water that the body holds. The more salt and water the body holds the more fluid that are needed to be pushed through the vessel. This increase in fluid increases blood pressure. A nurse practitioner/physician may prescribe a patient spironaloctone/aldactone to help with this issue. Aldactone helps decrease the amount of fluid the body holds by increasing urination.
Thyroid issues may cause an increase in blood pressure. An elevated thyroid levels causes your systolic blood pressure to increase. A decrease in your thyroid gland causes your diastolic blood pressure to decrease.
Vascular (Vessel) issues that affect blood pressure include renal (kidney) stenosis. This is a disorder that causes the kidneys to become stiff which means the kidneys can not filter fluid well, so fluid remains in the body, which leads to an increase blood pressure.
Risk factors (things that increase your chances of getting a disease) for high blood pressure
- Age: being the older you get the greater the chances of getting high blood pressure.
- Race: High blood pressure is highest among black men, because of a lack of the hormone renin which regulates salt and fluid in the body. Black men have a hard time regulating the salt put in their bodies.
- Family history: High blood pressure runs in families. Which could be explained because of having the same eating habits and stressors.
- Overweight/lack of physical: the more you weigh the more blood your body needs, so the more the heart must pump. People who do not exercise have high heart rates which mean the heart has to work harder. Both of these things increase blood pressure.
- Too much salt and too little potassium: A person who takes in too much salt will hold onto too much fluid in their vessels which will cause the heart to have to pump harder. Potassium balances salt so if you have too little potassium you will have too much salt. This is why providers check your blood to ensure these electrolytes are normal.
Medical Discussion (always discuss with you health care provider)
There are 3 major and common classes of high blood pressure (hypertensive) meds.
- Ace inhibitors/Arbs: The ace inhibitors have a pril ending like Lisinopril. These medications work in the kidneys to help lower blood pressure. They are given to diabetics with high blood pressure. They can produce a dry cough 2 weeks after starting them. If a patient cannot tolerate ace inhibitors they will be placed on an ARB, they have a sartan ending similar to losartan. These medications do not work well in black people, unless they are diabetic with high blood pressure.
- Calcium channel blockers: these medications have a pine in the ending as in amlodipine. These medications affect calcium’s intake into the heart and blood vessels which allows the heart to pump more efficiently and the blood vessels to carry blood more efficiently. Calcium channel blockers can cause swelling of the legs. They should not be used in patients with heart failure. Calcium channel blockers can also make acid reflux worse.
- Diuretics: These medications end in zide, an example is hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ). These medications work by causing you to urinate more, which decrease the fluid in your body lowering blood pressure. These medications can make gout, diabetes, high cholesterol worse, discuss these problems with your provider before starting them. These drugs also lower your sodium and potassium levels, so be sure to have an adequate diet.
Gameplan: Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
- Step 1: ensure that you are educated on exactly what is hypertension. Remember it is a pressure gauge for you heart. KNOW YOUR NUMBERS.
- Step 2: Sit down with your provider and see what can you do to decrease your numbers.
Diet: decrease your salt in diet. Link to dash diet. Eating less than 2300 milligrams of salt daily. There is 940 mg of salt in a big Mac. 40 mg in a coke, and. 240 mg of salt in large fry. 90 mg of salt per packet of ketchup. So that’s a total of 1700+ mg of salt in only one meal. A person can drop their blood pressure by 5 to 20 points by decreasing their weight by 20 lbs.
Exercise: Exercising 30 minutes a day for five days a week and decrease your blood pressure by 5 to 8 points.
- Step 3: Be prepared to sit down and discuss medications if needed with your provider. If on medications understand this is not a lifetime disorder. Have a gameplan with your provider. Remember the goal of treating high blood pressure is to decrease or stop damage to your organs (heart, kidneys, eyes, and penis).
- Step 4: Keep progressing to become a Man of Health.