Let's go a little quantitative and slightly medical for a while. When you visit your doctor or any legally recognized health practitioner, taking your blood pressure is one of the basic examinations to be performed. And afterwards, they usually scribble some jargons on a piece of paper and probably prescribe to you some drugs thereafter, with cacographic handwritings. Blood pressures are measured with the use of a Sphygmomanometer tied around your upper arm as a cuff, and the values are documented as a fraction of your highest blood pressure (systolic) to your lowest blood pressure (diastolic). Normal values are of the ranges 100-140mmHg for the systolic and 60-90mmHg for the diastolic.
Secondary hypertension usually results from an identifiable cause. It is a case of "if Jericho refuses to challenge Israel, Israel must pull down Jericho!" either way, everybody must know that Israel wins. This means that primary hypertension can later become Secondary hypertension or Secondary hypertension can usually occur on its own due to identifiable causes such as Kidney failure, Hyperthryroidism or Coarctation of the Aorta and so many others. Either way, one's body organs begin to fail. Jericho's wall starts to fall!
Two new concepts suddenly emerge at this point. The one is called Hypertensive urgencies and the other is known as hypertensive emergencies. Both involve a sustained high blood pressure above normal (about 180/110 mmHg), however the latter usually occurs with an evidence of target organ damage. What are these target organs? They include the eyes, the Kidneys, Brain, Lungs and Heart. Imagine a blind bedridden human with paralysis, bad kidneys and yet has a heart attack. A good example of the living dead. Many patients are usually noncompliant when the doctor says, "Sir, we would need to admit you immediately". This statement is often made when the kidneys have written resignation letter to the association of body parts and both eyes have decided to get a divorce.
Is Hypertension Age Dependent?
While hypertension is commonly a condition in adults and much worse in the elderly, children oftentimes are diagnosed of hypertension but this is very rare: like finding one bad egg in a warehouse of shipped crates. Children affected often fail to thrive or develop as should be, frequently have nose bleeding, easily fatigued, often breathless, blurred vision, irritability seizures and sometimes facial paralysis. If found in children, it is usually a pointer to a problem with their kidneys.
I'm Pregnant, What about me?
Hypertension would usually occur in 8-10% of global pregnancies, and is said to be in pregnancy if there is sustained elevation of blood pressure after 2 checkups within a 6-hour period in between checkup's. It could be a preexisting hypertension which must have been present before conception. It could also be gestational due to pregnancy and may then progress to what we call Preeclampsia which is characterized by increased protein in the urine in addition to the raised blood pressure. Preeclampsia is present in 5% of pregnancies. However, preecmplamsia can further progress to becoming Eclampsia, which is a very fatal gestational hypertensive emergency. It is capable of claiming the lives of both mother and unborn child. Pregnant women should have regular antenatal checkups and have their blood pressures closely monitored and controlled when necessary.
Even drugs are Culprits.
All substances are potential poisons, the dosage would tell. There are many other factors aside from drug dosage that can cause adverse drug effects. Drugs such as NSAIDS (pain killers), Oral contraceptives like morning after pill, drugs that increase your heart rate, drugs that retain fluid in your blood vessels (Antidiuretics) and various Steroids can cause Secondary hypertension.
What do I do now?
Hypertension is not the end of life. Visit your doctor and listen to whatever treatment modalities he or she gives you. Be compliant. This is a serious one. Poorly managed hypertension is as good as no treatment at all. Appropriate lifestyle modifications are essential here: exercise regularly, reduce salt intake, avoid much stress, Smoking and Alcohol intake should be a no no, or at least reduced to nonlethal amounts. You may also want to quit these 2 habits meet with your doctor for advice. Eat well and Sleep well. DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet is encouraged here. Your meals should generally contain low fat dairy foods, enough vegetables and whole grains, fruits are also essential with limited sugar-sweetened foods and beverages.
Hypertension is another hidden menace in our evolving society. Let's all join hands and fight it off together. Health is no doubt Wealth.