Hypertension 10 – Summary

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Hi folks! It’s Dr. Louella and we’ve reached the grand finale of our discussions on hypertension. Yeeaaah!!!!

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This one you should definitely keep for your records because I’ll be reiterating and reminding you of all the important points, having already explained the mechanics of this disorder in detail.

Firstly blood pressure is derived from the pumping action of the heart as it forces blood into large blood vessels. This causes the blood to circulate around our bodies. The force with which  the blood flows is called the blood pressure.

Just as we are unable to feel the blood circulating around our bodies, we are unable to feel our blood pressure. It is a common myth in Trinidad and Tobago that high blood pressure causes neck pain.

95% of high blood pressure cases are caused by the kidneys by an unknown mechanism. The other 5% have an identifiable cause, usually in younger individuals.

Certain emotional states, such as anger, pain and anxiety, as well as increased physical activity, can cause a temporary rise in blood pressure. This is not hypertension, which is a chronic condition. For this reason, not just one, but a few blood pressure readings need to be taken before a person is diagnosed as hypertensive.

Factors which predispose to the disease include a family history of hypertension, increasing age and certain ethnicities such as Afro-American or Afro-Caribbean.

Dietary associations of hypertension include a high sodium intake (salt, not fresh seasonings), low potassium intake, heavy consumption of alcohol and obesity. Increased oats and fruits in the diet help to reduce blood pressure. Physical inactivity is also associated with a higher blood pressure.

General guidelines for hypertension are that a reading of 120/80 or less is normal and ideal; a target of less than 140/90 is used for those on treatment; less than 150/90 is now used for those over 60 and 130/80 or less for those with certain diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Complications of hypertension are the dreaded stroke, heart failure, heart attack, kidney failure, aortic aneurysm and eye disease. Hypertension damages the inner lining of blood vessels allowing cholesterol to enter the wall and form a plaque that partially blocks blood flow.

If it a blood clot forms at the site it seals up the blockage long enough for no blood to flow and permanently damage brain or heart cells. The person then gets a stroke or heart attack.

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The DASH diet has been shown to help lower blood pressure. It includes less salt, alcohol, red meat, fat and sweets including sweetened drinks.

But it also includes more fruits, vegetables and high fibre foods (whole grain products such as whole wheat/meal bread, bran, oats, as well as more peas, beans and nuts).

Weight loss for the overweight and obese is important in controlling hypertension. This can be achieved by a combination of dietary control and exercise. To lose weight you need to eat less and have a lower calorie intake but frequent little meals, and not starvation, is the key.

Exercise is beneficial in lowering blood pressure on its own, even in those of normal weight. Aerobic exercise can take many forms including running, skipping and dancing.

Some people can have their hypertension controlled through diet and exercise alone but most will still need the assistance of medication. Medication is varied but it must be stressed that it needs to be taken everyday, as prescribed by the doctor, unless the person is experiencing ill effects, which he must inform his doctor about.

So there! We’re done. That’s the end of hypertension. I’ve taught you almost everything I know. Feel free if you have questions or comments. See you next week. Dr. Louella is out!!!

Hypertension 1 – Symptoms

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The pumping action of the heart creates a pressure and circulates the blood.

Hello everyone. This is Dr. Louella and welcome to my blog site. It’s is a calm evening here in Trinidad, the land of calypso. I want to talk to you about something I so frequently encounter in my family practice: hypertension or high blood pressure. While it is a very common disorder, many people still do not understand the basics of high blood pressure.

Firstly, blood pressure is derived from the pumping action of the heart as it forces blood into large blood vessels. This causes the blood circulate to around our bodies and the force with which  the blood flows is called the blood pressure. Just as we are unable to feel the blood circulating around our bodies, we are unable to feel our blood pressure.

A common myth in Trinidad is that high blood pressure causes neck pain. It would be much more appropriate for persons to think that perhaps they are stressed (or in some cases, have a neck strain) causing tightening of the neck muscles and hence the pain. Stress is a frequent cause of pain to the back of the neck. Knowing this, persons would be less likely to run to have their blood pressure checked (or God forbid, to run to take a blood pressure pill) when a neck pain occurs, and more likely to stop, figure out what is stressing them and come up with solutions.

Had they checked their blood pressure, however, it may very well have been high. But this high blood pressure reading is more likely to be as a result of the stress or pain (or as a result of chronic delinquency in taking their medication) and not the cause of their neck problem. In other words, stress and pain, can both raise your blood pressure temporarily . But they are not the cause of hypertension. If they bothered check, someone who frequently misses his or her high blood pressure medicines is likely to find that their blood pressure is high even when they don’t have a neck pain.

So what really causes hypertension? And what myths about high blood pressure are deceiving you?

Stay tuned, I’ll teach it all. But you got to talk to me!!! Questions and comments. I will give it in bite sizes for you to digest this knowledge and act on it to make healthier choices. Here’s to life! Later!!!