HYPERTENSION SERIES 2
Hypertension is like a rat that is eating up your skin while quietly blowing air on your bitten skin. You don’t feel the pain (no symptoms) but the damage is being done anyway.
Uncontrolled hypertension gnaws away at your blood vessels, heart, kidneys, etc. Gradually, it destroys your body organs, but you can only know when you check your BP. Most people only ever get symptoms when they have developed a complication. This is why it is called a & quote; silent killer & quote;.
What high blood pressure feels like
The symptoms of high blood pressure (when present) are similar to symptoms of many other diseases. These are mostly non-existent or non-specific at best.
Many people do not experience any symptoms of high blood pressure. However, the complications of hypertension have symptoms depending on the body organ that has been affected. Hence most people have no symptoms until they develop complications.
A few subsets will have the following symptoms when their BP shoots up:
- Nose bleeding
- Blurred vision
- A general feeling of being unwell (malaise)
The best way to know that your BP is high is by checking with an appropriate BP apparatus.
How your body regulates your BP
Your BP is maintained within a normal range by a combination of various processes. These
processes may cause some fluctuations in your BP.
However, ultimately, your body ensures a chemical and fluid volume balance which keeps these fluctuations within a limit. Your kidneys, heart, blood vessels and endocrine organs such as the adrenal glands play a vital role in this process.
A combination of the following factors will determine your BP.
- The quantity of blood in your body,
- The amount your heart has to pump out every minute, and
- the extent to which your blood vessels constrict.
Hypertension ensues when the balance between these processes is lost.
The higher your blood volume, the more work the heart needs to do to pump out blood. This also reduces the relaxation of blood vessels and all of these contribute to hypertension.
When you take a lot of salt, your body holds onto water. This increases your blood volume thereby increasing the risk of hypertension if sustained for long.
Habits like smoking cigarettes increase the constriction of your blood vessels. This also contributes to increased blood pressure.
What to do when BP is too high or too low.
BP of 160/90 mmHg and above is very high. If you have skipped your antihypertensive drug
but you are otherwise well, please take it immediately. Do not take a double dose or adjust your medications without your doctor’s instruction.
BP is said to be too low if it is less than 90/60mmHg. Go to the hospital if you observe this.
Do not take your antihypertensive drugs if you feel numbness on one side of your face, dizziness or heaviness/weakness of the limbs. It could be a stroke.
The best BP medication
Your desire to have the best is valid. The best BP medicine is determined based on the individual’s peculiar situation. This goes to say that there is no one size fits all answer to this question.
Your doctor will determine the best drugs for you based on the drug(s) you’re presently taking, other illnesses you also have (comorbidities), drug allergies, your place of origin (ethnicity) and how high your BP has been. The type of hypertension, pregnancy and breastfeeding also determine the choice of antihypertensive drugs.
Different classes of BP drugs exist. They reduce BP by working on different BP maintenance processes. Your doctor may prescribe one drug or a combination of 2 or more medications.
Why your high BP is not coming down Sometimes, an individual’s BP may seem difficult to control. BP may remain elevated despite the use of antihypertensives for weeks to months.
This can be due to;
- Poor sleep,
- High salt diet
- Sleep apnea
- Lack of exercise
- Low fibre diet
- Inadequate dosing etc.
To reiterate, hypertension is a silent killer. You cannot know if you have it without checking your BP. Always have regular BP checks and if your family has a history of hypertension, you should check your BP as often as possible.