Hypertension is the clinical term used to denote the presence of high blood pressure. It is one of the leading causes of the global burden of disease. The condition is a lifestyle disease and is associated with obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. It is one of the most studied disease conditions that have a lot of treatment options available.
Blood pressure is the ‘force’ that keeps blood moving through your arteries once it has been pumped from your heart. Blood pressure readings can give an indication of how hard your heart is working, and are an important part of a general health assessment.
High blood pressure (also called hypertension) is a condition that increases your chances of developing serious health problems like stroke, heart and kidney disease.
1 in 3 Australian adults has high blood pressure.
Many people who have high blood pressure do not experience any symptoms. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor or other health professional will encourage you to make lifestyle changes for example, diet and exercise and may also in severe cases prescribe medicines to help control your blood pressure. Managing your medicines and monitoring and recording your blood pressure are important for people living with high blood pressure. Of course changing lifestyle habits will lessen the chance of being prescribed medication and it will also alter the level of medication as you lose weight for example.
The rate of age-related increase in blood pressure and the prevalence of hypertension vary among countries. But generally speaking, hypertension is present in all populations. Genetic and environmental factors could contribute to the racial variations in hypertension prevalence. The incidence of hypertension increases with age but could occur starting at 25 years of age.
In Australia, approximately 33% of the general adult population has hypertension. Several studies show that obesity and weight gain are strong risk factors for the development of hypertension. As a matter of fact, an estimate of 60% of hypertensive is overweight.
High blood pressure in Australia
In the recent Australian Health Survey:
1 in 3 adults had high BP measured
High BP was slightly more prevalent in men (34%) than women (29%)
Half the people who reported having high BP also had heart or circulatory conditionsand 11% also had diabetes
High BP increased with age
Cause and how it affects the body
High blood pressure is caused by physical inactivity, excess body fat, alcohol consumption, and unhealthy eating habits. Hypertension is highly associated with obesity. One study revealed that there is a direct correlation between blood pressure measurement and body weight. Abdominal obesity remains to be higher factor of blood pressure elevation compared to peripheral body fat.
It has been established that majority of hypertension in adults may be directly attributed to adiposity or excess body fat. Because of the correlation of obesity and hypertension, additional studies were conducted to show the relationship of the two when it comes to the management. Results show that a healthy body weight also positively affects blood pressure readings.
Hypertension is a serious condition that should be managed properly. The presence of a constantly high blood pressure could alter the normal distribution of blood to different organ systems and could result to several complications. It is very important to have a normal blood pressure to ensure that adequate blood supply is delivered to the different organs of the body.
Hypertension could be caused by different disease condition which includes:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Coarctation of the Aorta
People who have hypertension may or may not experience symptoms. Headache is a common symptom of hypertension which usually occurs in the morning and is located in the back or nape area. Other symptoms associated with hypertension include palpitations, dizziness, and easy fatigability.
Patients would expect a clinical interview and a complete physical examination for the diagnosis of hypertension. The blood pressure levels should be measured on at least two different settings. The normal blood pressure reading is 120/80 mmHg, any reading higher than the normal is categorized into the different stages of hypertension. Other laboratory tests would be requested to determine secondary causes, comorbid conditions, or presence of complications.
Lifestyle Modification as the first-line treatment
Health promoting lifestyle modifications are recommended for people with hypertension. It is an effective fist-line treatment strategy for people with hypertension. The goal of lifestyle modification is to target all of the cardiovascular risks. In scientific trials, weight loss and the reduction of extra dietary sodium from processed foods have been shown to prevent the development of hypertension. Dietary modifications that effectively lower blood pressure are weight loss, increase potassium intake, and an overall healthy eating habit.
Regular physical activity and smoking cessation are also parts of lifestyle modification program for the management of hypertension. Studies show that regular physical activity has a protective effect to the heart. Change in diet and physical activity of a person with hypertension needs medical guidance for proper evaluation of blood pressure changes.
Medications for comorbid conditions and complications.
Medications are also prescribed as a part of the hypertension management. Drugs commonly prescribed are ACE inhibitors, Angiotensin II receptor blockers, Beta-blockers, Calcium channel blockers, and Diuretics. However, most of these medications need to be supplemented by a healthy diet program. Generally, medications are given to control comorbid conditions and the presence of complications. This medication will alter as the patient loses weight and modifies lifestyle changes with the opportunity to be completely medication free.
Diets higher in protein – the new treatment option for hypertension.
Different clinical trials show that dietary protein can effectively lower blood pressure levels. A higher protein intake could significantly reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. However, it is important to note that dietary protein should have a high biologic value. One study published in the Journal of Hypertension noted that a high protein diet is also an effective method to prevent the development of hypertension. The findings of this study and other clinical trials concluded a new treatment option. This is great news for people living with hypertension who are tired of bland diets.
Hypertension is a notorious condition that worsens with age. If left untreated, it increases the risk for other heart conditions like stroke. A lot of comorbid condition would likely occur if the condition is not properly managed. Early diagnosis and aggressive management could lead to good prognosis and reduction of cardiovascular risks.
Prevention and treatment of obesity are important for decreasing hypertension and its associated complications. Even a modest weight loss can lead to a reduction of blood pressure and an increase in insulin sensitivity. An average of 0.5 mmHg reduction in blood pressure is noticed in every 1 kilogram of body weight lost. Physical activity and reduced alcohol consumption also helps in the prevention of hypertension.
Contact us now to find out how our amazing protocol can assist you with your lifestyle modifications, behaviours and dietary needs. We have had great success with previous clients in lowering their blood pressure, call us to see if you qualify.
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- High blood pressure. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Retrieved on 18 May 2015 from http://www.aihw.gov.au/high-blood-pressure/.
- Buendia, J.R., Bradlee, M.L., Singer, M.R., & Moore, L.L. (2015) Diets higher in protein predict lower high blood pressure risk in Framingham Offspring Study adults. American Journal of Hypertension;28(3):372-9.
- What is High Blood Pressure? High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia. Retrieved on 18 May 2015 from http://www.hbprca.com.au/high-blood-pressure/.
- Heart Foundation. (2010) Guide to management of hypertension. Heart Foundation. Retrieved 18 May 2015 from http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/HypertensionGuidelines2008to2010Update.pdf.
- Madhur, M. Hypertension. Medscape. Retrieved on 18 May 2015 from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/241381-overview#aw2aab6b2b6aa.