Hypertension is more simply known as high blood pressure, and it is characterized by chronically elevated pressure in the arteries. Hypertension is a long-term disease and does not exhibit any symptoms even when it has progressed to dangerous levels.
There is no definite cause of hypertension, but it is linked to various risk factors, such as age and lifestyle. As in the case of similarly chronic diseases, it's not hypertension per se that's dangerous, but the complications that follow.
For instance, hypertension is known as a significant risk factor in heart disease. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of dying because of a heart attack, stroke, or an aneurysm. It can also affect the blood vessels in your kidneys, increasing your odds of suffering from eventual kidney failure. In some people, hypertension may occur together with other deadly conditions, such as obesity and diabetes, resulting in highly dangerous metabolic syndrome.
Because the brain receives a significant percentage of the blood that flows through your body, it is susceptible to damage from conditions that affect circulation, such as hypertension. Indeed, the disease has been linked to an increased risk of dementia, particularly, vascular dementia. Even in younger individuals, hypertension may disrupt the ability to think, learn, and remember.
There are medications used to lower blood pressure, but many of them come with the risk of serious side effects. Just recently, losartan, one of the most commonly prescribed maintenance medications for hypertension, has been pulled off the shelves by the U.S. Food and Drugs Administration because of its link to increased rates of cancer.
Exercise is considered one of the most effective ways to control hypertension even without medications. According to studies, even when hypertensive people do not lose weight, they will experience improvements in their blood pressure levels as a result of regular physical activity.
Experts recommend getting at least two and a half hours of exercise every week. You don't have to engage in anything intense either – experts say something as light and simple as walking does more than staying sedentary.
Exercise not only trains your heart, but it also helps you de-stress. Chronic stress is one of the most significant risk factors associated with hypertension, so getting away from it is an excellent way to bring your blood pressure closer to normal levels.
One study, published in the Journal of Hypertension, found yet another benefit of exercise for people with high blood pressure. The authors confirmed that hypertension limits the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which plays a crucial role in the production and maintenance of brain cells. According to the study, exercise reverses the effects of hypertension and improves the levels of BDNF in the hippocampus.
Eating right is another effective way to control hypertension. Hypertensive people are encouraged to follow the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan, an approach that focuses on heart-friendly foods that are low in fat, salt, and cholesterol, but rich in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. The Mediterranean diet, with its emphasis on fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts; whole grains; lean meat; and olive oil, is another diet considered healthy for hypertensive people.
In any case, people with hypertension are urged to increase their intake of hypotensive potassium and lower their consumption of alcohol and sweets. Alcohol is a risk factor in hypertension, while sweets increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes that is known to exacerbate high blood pressure.
Learn how to care for your heart at Heart.news.