- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) Causes and Treatment
Hypertension, persistent elevation of the blood pressure above the normal for a particular age and sex. The acceptable range of resting blood pressure in young adults is anything from 110 to 140 mm of mercury for systolic pressure and 60 to 90 mm of mercury for diastolic pressure. This range is exceeded during emotional excitement or physical exertion, but the blood pressure should soon return to the resting level. In patients with hypertension the blood pressure readings remain elevated, even at rest.
Elevation of either systolic or diastolic pressure is significant as it can put an additional strain on the heart as well as causing damage to the arteries. The cause of this 'essential' high pressure is unknown in most cases. In a few cases, however, a specific cause is found, e.g. disease in the kidneys, the adrenal glands, or a partial block of the aorta.
Causes of Hypertension
Hypertension may be due to worry or overwork, especially when combined with over-indulgence in alcohol, lack of regular exercise, and obesity; or it may be associated with renal disease, arteriosclerosis, gout, or lead-poisoning; a tendency to it may be inherited.
Symptoms of Hypertension
Symptoms may be absent, or may consist of headache, tinnitus, throbbing in the neck, palpitation, giddiness, flatulence, indigestion, depression, insomnia, and a tendency to epistaxis. The chief dangers are (1) left ventricular failure, succeeded by general heart failure ; (2) hemorrhage, especially into the brain; (3) occasionally, uremia when the kidneys are damaged.
Treatment of Hypertension
Overwork, over-indulgence, and sudden strains should be avoided. An hour's rest in recumbency after the midday meal and a restful weekend are advisable. Alcohol, strong tea and coffee should be forbidden, and proteins restricted, only one egg being allowed and meat taken only once a day. Salt, also, should be restricted.
If renal disease is present, the appropriate diet should be adopted. Obesity should be treated. The bowels should be kept freely open, and straining at stool avoided.
Where the cause is known, early treatment of the underlying disorder can lead to a permanent recovery. When no specific cause is found, treatment is directed mainly towards lowering the blood pressure to reduce heart strain and damage to the blood vessels. This is effected by weight reduction for the overweight, moderation in life pattern and specific medication, which may need to be taken for a long time. Untreated, severe hypertension can cause heart failure and in susceptible cases can lead to Cerebral Hemorrhage.
Surgical treatment, aimed at reducing the blood pressure, may bring symptomatic relief and improved life-expectancy in carefully selected cases.
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