Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. As the blood is pumped through arteries by the heart, high blood pressure is measured by the rate blood is being transmitted through the arteries. The more force used to get blood through the arteries, the higher the blood pressure may be. There are two general types of hypertension, with the first being essential hypertension or primary hypertension, the name given to high blood pressure without a direct cause. Essential hypertension is the opposite, known as secondary hypertension, and generally results as a symptom of a pre-existing condition.
A blood pressure measurement consists of two distinct numbers. The first or top number given is the systolic number and the second or bottom number is the diastolic digit. If only the systolic number is high in an individual, he or she is said to have isolated systolic hypertension. This is a common form of essential hypertension. Although, this type of high blood pressure may only be related to the top number, it is vital to remember that this does not make the condition any less dangerous to a person's overall health.
Although there is no known cause of essential hypertension, there are factors which may contribute to it. Being overweight may factor into the development of high blood pressure. Diet may also play a very important role. For instance, the consumption of foods that are high in fat and sodium can eventually damage the heart and arteries, leading to hypertension, cardiovascular disease and additional heart-related conditions. Smoking and leading a stressful lifestyle can also be contributing factors.
Some people with essential hypertension will exhibit no outwardly symptoms. Often, the condition goes unnoticed until a health examination when the blood pressure is taken. Other people may have symptoms such as light-headedness, dizziness and headaches. A person with a very high blood pressure may faint, get extremely weak or have an onset of confusion. It is also not uncommon for visual disturbances to occur when a blood pressure sky rockets.
Lifestyle changes may be used as part of a treatment plan for essential hypertension. This may include eating a healthier diet, exercising and eliminating harmful habits such as smoking. Practicing relaxation techniques can also reduce stress and help reduce high blood pressure.
For some individuals, medication will be needed to treat the condition. Doctors will prescribe medicines for hypertension on an individual basis. Some commonly used medicines include beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and diuretics.