High blood pressure, Cause and prevention

What is blood pressure

High blood pressure can lead to many health complicacies. Lets first understand what is high blood pressure of hypertension. Blood pressure is measure of force exerted by blood on your artery walls during circulation of blood. Blood pressure is calculated by two different numbers.

Systolic or Upper number: It is pressure exerted by blood on your artery wall when heart beats or contracts, specially at the time of maximum force during contraction.

Diastolic or lower number: It indicates how much pressure exerted by your blood on your artery wall when the heart relaxes and expanding in between heart beats. It is the lowest arterial pressure exerted by blood, during resting period of cardiac cycle.

In general, blood pressure is measured in mm of Hg (mercury).

Healthy and unhealthy blood pressure range is as below: (1)

Blood Pressure
mm Hg (upper #)
mm Hg (lower #)
Normal less than 120 and less than 80
Prehypertension 120 – 139 or 80 – 89
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 1
140 – 159 or 90 – 99
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 2
160 or higher or 100 or higher
Hypertensive Crisis
(Emergency care needed)
Higher than 180 or Higher than 110

Types of High Blood Pressure:

Primary High Blood Pressure or Primary Hypertension:

Primary or essential high blood pressure or essential hypertension is the most common type of high blood pressure for most adults and tends to develop as person ages over many years.

Secondary High Blood Pressure or secondary Hypertension:

This type of high blood pressure occurs due to an underlying condition. It tends to appear in short period of time and develop higher blood pressure than does primary high blood pressure. (2) If the cause can be removed or treated, secondary high blood pressure can be resolved.

High blood pressure, Cause and prevention

Complications with High Blood Pressure:

High blood pressure is dangerous because it forces your heart to work harder continuously to pump blood out to your body. Blood flow with high force can damage arteries and organ like heart, kidney, brain, eyes. Uncontrolled high pressure can lead to serious health problems including heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, stroke, as well as other health problems. (3)

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to various Complications such as: (4)

Damage to your artery:

High blood pressure can damage to the inner lining cells of arteries, which cause accumulation of fats from bloodstream in arteries inner wall and which further cause narrowing and hardening artery and hindrance towards blood flow.


Over time uncontrolled blood pressure moving through weakened artery, cause a section of artery wall to enlarge and form a bulge (Aneurysm). Which may eventually ruptures and cause life threatening internal bleeding.

Coronary artery damage:

Damage to coronary artery (artery that supplies blood the heart cells) by narrowing and hardening cause obstruction to blood supply to heart tissue further leads to chest pain, heart attack etc.

Damage to the heart:

Uncontrolled high blood pressure puts heart muscle to work harder than necessary continuously to pump blood to the body. Such condition causes stiffen the left ventricle and limits its ability to pump blood. Over time this weakens your heart muscle and work less efficiently. This increases risk of heart failure, heart attack and sudden cardiac death.

Also read more about preventive measure to heart disease.

Damage to kidney:

High blood pressure can damage arteries leading to kidney and tiny blood vessels (glomeruli) inside the kidney. As a result, kidney can’t filter effectively body waste product from blood.  Which further leads to accumulation of fluid and waste product to dangerous level, finally may cause of kidney failure.

High blood pressure, Cause and prevention

Damage to brain:

Stroke is condition, in which blood flow to brain cell is interrupted causing brain cells to die. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage and weaken brain blood vessel. Which further leads to stroke by interruption of blood flow to or in brain cells by causing blood vessel narrow, rapture or leak.

Loss of cognitive function:

Over time uncontrolled high blood pressure damages arteries causing interruption blood flow to or in brain cell.  Which further lead to change of cognitive function such as loss of memory, difficulty in focusing, finding word etc.

Damage to eyes:

Like other blood vessel, tiny blood vessels in eyes also damage by high blood pressure which may cause bleeding in eye, blurred vision, and loss of vision. With diabetics the risk may be even higher.

Sexual dysfunction:

Damage to arteries, further causing limiting blood flow in penis as or vagina further leads to problem in erection or decrease in sexual desire or arousal, vaginal dryness, or difficulty achieving orgasm.

Symptoms of High Blood pressure:  (5)

Normally there are no symptoms of high blood pressure, it is silent killer. It is better to diagnosis blood pressure number by health care provider on regular mode.  A few people with high blood pressure may have headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds, but these signs and symptoms aren’t specific and usually don’t occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe stage.

Cause of high blood pressure: ( 6 7 8 )

Some of the known causes of secondary high blood pressure are:

  • Excessive consumption of salt in diet
  • Obstructive sleep apnea  (9)
  • Stress
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Consuming excessive alcohol
  • Problem with blood vessel
  • Kidney disease (10)
  • Thyroid problem
  • Some medicine such as birth control pill, over the counter medicine such as pain reliever, cold remedies
  • Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines

Risk factor associated with high blood pressure: (11 12)

  • Eating excessive sodium and too little potassium in diet
  • Family history
  • Race
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Stress
  • Physical inactivity
  • Drinking excessive alcohol
  • Certain chronic condition: Kidney problem, sleep apnea, diabetics may increase blood pressure

Lowering of high blood pressure:

Lifestyle changes can help you to lower and prevent high blood pressure.

Limiting Sodium and salt:

A low sodium diet will help you to lower high blood pressure. Sodium is a essential nutrient but excessive of it can harm your body. Sodium holds excess fluid in the body. (13) The kidneys normally regulate the body’s salt balance by retaining sodium and water and excreting  potassium. (14) Excessive sodium intake or retention by the kidneys, imbalance this and consequent tendency towards blood volume leads to hypertension or high blood pressure. (15)

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day and an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults. (16)

Here are the approximate amounts of sodium in a given amount of table salt:

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium
  • 1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium

However sodium not only comes from table salt, most of the processed food available in market contains considerable quantity of sodium.  Make a habit to read the label, before buying any processed food.

Healthy eating:

Controlling sodium and salt intake, increase potassium and foods that are heart healthy help to lower high blood pressure.

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is good heart healthy eating plan which is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, omega 3 essential fatty acid and low-fat dairy products and skimps on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure. You can read more about DASH here.

  • Whole unprocessed food
  • Food with high fiber food such as fruits, vegetables, seeds
  • Fish rich with omega 3 fatty acid such as salmon, Herring, Sardines, Mackerel etc
  • Diet that includes rich with Potassium helps lowering high blood pressure. Source of high potassium food are some as melons, avocados, spinach, Acorn Squash, Apricots, sweet potato, bananas, white beans, Broccoli, Pomegranate, fat free yoghurts   etc
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products, such as skim milk
  • Adding garlic in diet helps lower high blood pressure, relax muscles.
  • Avoid trans fat, artificial sugar, caffeine, alcohol as much as possible.Related post

Related post: best high blood pressure lowering foods

Managing  healthy Body weight:

If you are overweight or obese, you are in greater risk of high blood pressure and other health related problem. Try to loose weight, if you are overweight. Body Mass Index is the calculator of overweight or obesity. It calculates your body weight in relation to your body height. You can check your body mass index here.

Regular exercise and physical activeness:

Regular physical exercise and activeness can lower high blood pressure and other health related problems. It also helps to cut weight and drain mental stress to an extent. 20 -30 minutes daily moderate intensity aerobic exercise such as running/jogging, brisk walking, swimming, cardio workout, dancing etc with 5 to 6 days in a week helps you in reducing many health related problems.  However if you have any health problem with doing physical exerciser, consult your healthcare provider first.

Limit consumption of alcohol:

As per National Stroke Association, consuming excessive alcohol can increase blood pressure and the risk of stroke. (17) It is better to avoid or limit consumption of alcohol.

Managing stress:

Yoga is very good practice of lowering stress and overall wellness.

However it is important to understand the proper method.

Meditation is also very good practice to relieve stress, anxiety, depression and for peace of mind.

Try to manage stress, listen music of joy/peace. Physical exercises also help to drain stress to a limit. If you are under severe stress should discuss with an expert.

Family history:

If you have family history of high blood pressure, consult with healthcare professional. Lifestyle choices have allowed many people with family history of high blood pressure, to control over it. (18)

We will come out shortly with some best food and supplement for lowering high blood pressure in our coming articles

Source and reference:
6. http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/blood-
7. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-
8. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp/causes
9. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sleepapnea
10. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/tc/chronic-kidney-disease-topic-
11. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-
12. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp/atrisk
14. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp/causes
15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16467498
16. https://sodiumbreakup.heart.org/how_much_sodium_should_i_eat?
17. http://www.stroke.org/understand-stroke/preventing-stroke/lifestyle-
Bikramjit Konwar

Author: Bikramjit Konwar


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