Causes Of Secondary Hypertension
When high blood pressure arises suddenly due to an identifiable condition, its called secondary hypertension.
Some conditions and drugs can lead to secondary hypertension, including the following:
- Kidney problems
HormonesBirth control pills can also affect blood pressure. Women who take birth control pills usually experience a small rise in systolic and diastolic blood pressure .
Hormone therapy used to relieve symptoms of menopause can also cause a small rise in systolic blood pressure.
If you know you have high blood pressure, but are considering hormone therapy, talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of undergoing hormone therapy, as well as the best ways to control your blood pressure.
Additionally, some recreational and illegal drugs, such as cocaine, ecstasy , and amphetamines, are also known to increase blood pressure.
How Is It Diagnosed
Because it is such a common problem, blood pressure is checked at most healthcare visits. High blood pressure is usually discovered during one of these visits. If your blood pressure is high, you will be asked to return for follow-up checks. If repeated checks of your blood pressure show that it is higher than 140/90, you have hypertension.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your life situation, what you eat and drink, and if high blood pressure runs in your family. You may have urine and blood tests. Your provider may order a chest X-ray and an electrocardiogram . You may be asked to use a portable blood-pressure measuring device, which will take your pressure at different times during day and night. All of this testing is done to look for a possible cause of your high blood pressure.
Causes Of High Blood Pressure
Although the exact cause is unknown, certain conditions, traits or habits may raise your risk for the condition. These are known as risk factors and include:
Non-modifiable risk factors: These factors are irreversible and cannot be changed. The more of these risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing HBP.
- Starting at age 18, ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading at least every two years. If you’re age 40 or older, or you’re 18 to 39 with a high risk of high blood pressure, ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading every year.
- Family history/Genetics
- African Americans and non-white Hispanic Americans are at higher risk for developing high blood pressure than any other group in the U.S.
Modifiable risk factors: These factors can be modified, treated or controlled through medications or lifestyle changes.
- Excessive alcohol consumption over many years.
- Little to no physical activity
- Excessive amounts of salt in diet that excess the recommended amounts of 1,500 to 2,300 mg of sodium per day.
- Long history of smoking and/or drug abuse
- Extreme emotional stress
Other conditions that contribute to developing high blood pressure
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Blood Pressure Checks During Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, you should have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis, even if it is not high.
Watching your blood pressure while you are pregnant reduces your risk of developing pregnancy-induced hypertension. This can lead to a serious condition called pre-eclampsia where there is a problem with the placenta .
Treating High Blood Pressure
Treatment for high blood pressure will depend on your blood pressure levels and your associated risk of developing a cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack or stroke.
There are seven main risk factors for developing a cardiovascular disease. These are:
- having a high level of cholesterol in your blood
- having a family history of cardiovascular disease .
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Signs And Symptoms Of Damage To The Kidneys From Dangerously High Blood Pressure
Damage to the kidneys from dangerously high blood pressure can be somewhat difficult to detect based on symptoms alone. You need a combination of signs, symptoms, blood tests, and urine tests to look for kidney damage from dangerously high blood pressure.
Here are some of the possible findings:
- Bloody urine, with plenty of red blood cells seen when examined under a microscope
- Frothy urine, with presence of significant amounts of protein when tested in the lab
- Blood tests showing high amounts of toxins and waste products in the blood as a result of the kidneys not filtering them properly
- Unable to make adequate amounts of urine
How Is Blood Pressure Measured
Blood pressure is measured using a machine called a blood pressure monitor.
A cuff is put over your arm. This cuff is attached to a machine which measures the pressure inside your arteries. When the machine is switched on the cuff tightens and then slowly loosens again. It is quick and painless. At the end, the machine will give a blood pressure reading.
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury .
A blood pressure reading contains two numbers and will be written as a figure like 120/75
The first number is the pressure when your heart beats . The second number is when your heart relaxes .
During a blood pressure test, a blood pressure cuff is wrapped around your arm so a blood pressure monitor can measure your systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
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Common Causes Of High Blood Pressure Spikes
Some people with high blood pressure will experience sharp rises in their blood pressure. These spikes, which typically last only a short period of time, are also known as sudden high blood pressure. These are some possible causes:
- Certain medications or combinations of medications
- Chronic kidney disease
What Are The Symptoms
One of the sneaky things about high blood pressure is that you can have it for a long time without symptoms. That’s why it is important for you have your blood pressure checked at least once a year.
If you do have symptoms, they may be:
Although it happens rarely, the first symptom may be a stroke.
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Excessive Salt Raises Blood Pressure
Too much sodium can cause water retention that puts increased pressure on your heart and blood vessels. People with high blood pressure and those at a high risk for developing hypertension, including adults over 50 and black men and women, should have no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily of salt.
Even people with normal levels should eat salt in moderation. Stick to no more than 2,300 mg of sodium , per day.
Most dietary sodium comes from processed foods. Rules of thumb are to choose foods with 5% or less of the daily value of sodium per serving and opt for fresh poultry, fish and lean meats, rather than canned, smoked or processed. Similarly, fresh or frozen vegetables are better than canned.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that if people cut just 1/2 teaspoon of salt per day, it could help lower the number of new cases of heart disease per year by up to 120,000.
Further, potassium found in foods like sweet potatoes, spinach, bananas, oranges, low-fat milk and halibut can counterbalance the pressure-increasing effects of sodium by helping to rid the body of excess sodium.
How Is High Blood Pressure Treated
If high blood pressure is due to a condition like kidney disease or lung disease, treating it might be enough to get the blood pressure back to normal.
Doctors also might recommend lifestyle changes. If you have hypertension, your doctor might want you to:
Eat a healthy diet:
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy.
- Limit salt.
- Avoid alcohol.
Get regular exercise:
- Try to exercise for 3060 minutes at least 3 times a week. But teens with severe hypertension should not do any weightlifting or power-lifting, bodybuilding, or strength training until their blood pressure is under control and a doctor says it’s OK.
- People with high blood pressure should not smoke, and their home and car should be smoke-free.
If diet and exercise changes do not improve the blood pressure, doctors may prescribe medicine.
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Hypertension: The Silent Killer
Blood flows through your blood vessels and the force varies second to second anyway, so why does it matter if blood pressure is high? That is, why is hypertension so dangerous? Hypertension is called the silent killer for two reasons.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, and aneurysms without previous symptoms or warning signs. That is why it is important to know your blood pressure and treat it if you have hypertension.
Does High Blood Pressure Cause Headaches Or Other Symptoms
Q.My friend insists that she can feel when she has high blood pressure, because her face flushes and she gets a headache. Is this possible?
A. In almost all instances people cannot feel high blood pressure and are unaware that they have it. This is why it is often referred to as a silent killer.
It is usually only when a person is in the midst of what is known as a hypertensive crisis a period of extremely high blood pressure with a reading of 180/120 millimeters of mercury or higher that she or he will experience symptoms, such as a headache. This is considered a medical crisis, and if it occurs, you should call 911 and get emergency help.
However, even in these instances, high blood pressure can’t be diagnosed based on symptoms alone. The only way to truly tell if you have elevated blood pressure is to take a reading with a blood pressure cuff.
If your friend is experiencing frequent headaches and other symptoms she’s attributing to high blood pressure, it might be wise for her to visit her doctor to make sure another condition isn’t causing the problem. If she does have uncontrolled high blood pressure, she should also be certain to work with her doctor to manage her condition. Unchecked, high blood pressure can lead to numerous complications, including damage to your arteries, brain, heart, and kidneys.
by Hope Ricciotti, M.D., and Toni Golen, M.D.Editors in Chief, Harvard Women’s Health Watch
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How To Prevent Sudden High Blood Pressure Problem
In 2013, more than 360,000 deaths in the United States had high blood pressure as primary or contributing cause. Each year, the government spends an estimated $46 billion for workers missed days, health care services, and high blood pressure medications. Talk to your doctor about treatment for high blood pressure medications. In the meantime, there are precautions you can take right now.
1. Avoid Stress
Become involved in hobbies such as painting, exercise, and other physical activities to have a stress outlet and keep fit.
2. Limit Caffeine Intake
Talk with your doctor about your caffeine habits and stick to a plan to limit your daily intake.
3. Quit Smoking
As one of the biggest health risks, smoking can lead to serious heart and lung conditions and death.
4. Eat Healthy Foods
Avoid saturated fats and junk food to maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
5. Reduce Sodium in Diet
Added salt and salt found in food products can lead to high blood pressure as it increases the solute content in our blood.
6. Exercise Regularly
A healthy heart, and body, requires regular exercise daily for 20 to 30 minutes.
7. Monitor Vitals
It is important to keep an eye on your blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels, especially if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Home Blood Pressure Monitoring
Some people buy their own blood pressure monitor to use at home. This means you can measure your blood pressure on an ongoing basis.
The blood pressure readings you do at home are as good as those done by your doctor.
If you decide to buy one, it’s important to get the correct cuff size. If the cuff is too big or too small, it can give an inaccurate reading.
If you take your own blood pressure and get an unusually high reading, take it a second time after at least five minutes. If it’s still high and you’re worried, contact your nurse or GP.
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Symptoms Of Sudden High Blood Pressure
Unlike traditional high blood pressure, where there are no visual symptoms until major damage has occurred, sudden high blood pressure alerts you immediately.
- Weakness or numbness in arms, legs, face
- Mentality changes such as anxiety, fatigue, confusion, restlessness
In extreme cases of sudden high blood pressure, there may be bleeding from damaged blood vessels, blindness from ruptured retina nerves or vessels, and possibly seizures.
When To Seek Medical Attention
High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because many people dont know that they have the condition. Typically, there are no symptoms or warning signs.
The best way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked regularly during your routine healthcare appointments. If you have a family history of high blood pressure or are at higher risk, you may benefit from using an at-home blood pressure monitor or tracking device.
If you are experiencing consistent tiredness or fatigue that you think may be related to high blood pressure or your blood pressure medication, talk to your healthcare provider.
Seek immediate medical attention if tiredness worsens or you are experiencing other physical symptoms, including blood spots in the eyes, nosebleeds, dizziness, flushing, and chest pains.
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Making Your Blood Pressure Treatment Work For You
One thing is certain: your blood pressure treatment program will work best if you follow it. Where can you get the support, education, reminders, and tracking you may need to get active, lose weight, take your medications, and choose healthier foods?
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High Blood Pressure Chart
- congenital conditions, such as Cushings syndrome, acromegaly, or pheochromocytoma
Sometimes, there is no apparent cause. In this case, a doctor will diagnose primary hypertension.
Consuming a high fat diet, carrying excess weight, drinking a lot of alcohol, smoking tobacco, and the use of some medications also increase the risk.
Treatment will depend on several factors, including:
- how high the blood pressure is
- the risk of cardiovascular disease or a stroke
The doctor will recommend different treatments as blood pressure increases. For slightly high blood pressure, they may suggest making lifestyle changes and monitoring the blood pressure.
If blood pressure is high, they will recommend medication. The options may change over time, according to how severe the hypertension is and whether complications arise, such as kidney disease. Some people may need a combination of several different medications.
What Are The Treatments For High Blood Pressure
You will work with your provider to come up with a treatment plan. It may include only the lifestyle changes. These changes, such as heart-healthy eating and exercise, can be very effective. But sometimes the changes do not control or lower your high blood pressure. Then you may need to take medicine. There are different types of blood pressure medicines. Some people need to take more than one type.
If your high blood pressure is caused by another medical condition or medicine, treating that condition or stopping the medicine may lower your blood pressure.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Youre Having More Than One Alcoholic Drink Per Day
For people who already drink, moderate alcohol consumption is often not a problem, and some research suggests it may even help prevent heart disease. However, heavier alcohol consumptionespecially frequent binge drinking episodescan lead to chronically elevated blood pressure, says Dr. Philips. Research has also tied binge drinking to an increased risk of developing atherosclerosisbuildup of fatty plaque in the arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.
BP fix: If youre going to drink, drink moderately.
One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of spirits. And if its really more about the ritual than the alcohol itself, consider periodically swapping out your glass of cabernet for a kombucha or one of those trendy new non-alcoholic cocktails from brands like Curious Elixirs, Seedlip, and Kin.
Secondary High Blood Pressure
Some cases of high blood pressure are the result of underlying factors or cause and this is known as secondary high blood pressure.
Underlying factors include:
- kidney conditions, such as a kidney infection, or kidney disease
- narrowing of the arteries
- hormonal conditions, such as Cushing’s syndrome
- conditions that affect the bodys tissue, such as lupus
- medication, such as the oral contraceptive pill, or the type of painkillers that are known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen
- recreational drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamines and crystal meth
Occasionally, a rise in blood pressure can result from taking herbal remedies, such as herbal supplements.
Secondary Hypertension Treatment Options
If your doctor discovers an underlying issue causing your hypertension, treatment will focus on that other condition. For example, if a medication youve started taking is causing increased blood pressure, your doctor will try other medications that dont have this side effect.
Sometimes, hypertension is persistent despite treatment for the underlying cause. In this case, your doctor may work with you to develop lifestyle changes and prescribe medications to help reduce your blood pressure.
Treatment plans for hypertension often evolve. What worked at first may become less useful over time. Your doctor will continue to work with you to refine your treatment.
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