Hypertension, also called high blood pressure, is the persistent rise of your blood pressure above 140/90mmHg after subsequent blood pressure check. You are said to have hypertension when blood that travels around your body moves through the blood vessel with more force. If your blood pressure is high, it can rupture and destroy the walls of the blood vessel over time.
Hypertension can lead to serious complications and even death if left unattended to. That is why some people refer to hypertension as ”silent killer” because it does not give signs or symptoms most times. Therefore the best way to protect yourself is by regularly checking your blood pressure levels.
What is Normal?
Your blood pressure is measured as systolic over diastolic. Systolic is the first sound heard when your heart contracts (beats), and diastolic is the last sound heard when the heart relaxes. For an average adult, the normal blood pressure range is 90/60mmHg to 120/80mmHg.
According to American Heart/Stroke Association, this is the table of various ranges and categories of blood pressure you should know:
Why is High Blood Pressure a Big Deal?
High blood pressure is a big deal because it poses more danger to the heart by increasing its workload. You may not feel any sign or symptoms, but that added stress to your heart and blood vessels may raise your chances for heart attack, stroke and heart failure. Overtime, problems from your arteries could cause back flow of blood or impede blood circulation.
Because all your organs and tissues of the body needs blood flow to function well, it means organs like your brain, kidneys, eyes and sex organs can also be affected. That is why regular check of blood pressure is advisable to avoid any surprises. In many cases, people get to find out they have hypertension only when it has reached its complicated stage. So endeavour to check your blood pressure always to prevent, detect and treat any form of hypertension.
Medical Emergencies Caused By Hypertension
Hypertension is usually a chronic condition that gradually cause damage to the body. But blood pressure sometimes rises so quick that it becomes an emergency which needs immediate attention and treatment.
Hypertension can cause the following medical complications:
- Memory loss.
- Lack of concentration.
- Progressive loss of consciousness.
- Chest pain.
- Heart attack.
- Sudden impaired pumping of the heart.
- Sudden loss of kidney function.
- Complications in pregnancy e.g pre-eclampsia, eclampsia etc.
Now, lets pick some systems in the body and examples each one to see what hypertension does to it;
Your Circulatory System (Artery)
Normally the blood vessels that carries blood to every part of your body is smooth which allows free flow of blood. Any extra force of blood can damage the lining of the blood vessels causing blood to clog and stretch the artery wall, making it bulge like balloon.
The bump is called “aneurysm” and it can eventually break open and bleed, causing sudden death if not immediately attended to at the hospital.
Your Cardiovascular System (Heart)
The heart is a hollow muscular organ and its main function is to pump blood that supplies to different part of the body. When this supply line can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s demand, it can begin to cause problems like irregular heartbeat (Arrhythmia), chest pain (angina), heart attack and heart failure.
For the heart to pump blood through clogged vessels, your heart have to work harder. This causes heart enlargement and the walls of the heart muscles loose strength and can’t pump blood as it is expected. This is what results in heart failure, heart attack and even death.
Your Nervous System (Brain)
Elevated blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke. When an artery supplying your brain is blocked with clogged blood, it can stop flow of blood to your brain cells. Depending on the part of the brain whose blood supply has been obstructed, you may have problem with speech, vision, movement, smell etc.
These problems could be temporary if the blood supply to that part of brain is restored but permanent if the cells are destroyed.
Your Urinary System (Kidney)
Kidneys depend on tiny blood vessels to bring oxygen and nutrients and to filter waste from the body. When these vessels become obstructed, the kidneys can’t function well. Studies show that 1 in 5 persons with hypertension also have kidney disease.
A healthy kidney plays a role of keeping your blood pressure within normal range, But when they are damaged, your blood pressure increases.
Your Reproductive System (Genitals)
When there is reduced blood flow to your sexual organs due to hypertension, it can cause erectile dysfunction in men and low sex drive and vaginal dryness in women.
Your Skeletal System (Bones)
High blood pressure makes you to excrete excess calcium in urine. When this happens, your body picks up calcium from your bones to make up that which was lost in the urine. This can result in osteoporosis (loss of bone mass).
- Health Line – high-blood pressure effect on body
- Mayoclinic – high blood pressure in-depth
- WEBMD – hypertension