Muscat: Systemic hypertension occurs when the pressure within the heart is more than 130/80 during the contraction phase, and greater than 80 during heart muscle relaxation.
The pressure exerted by the blood on the arterial wall during its circulation is the blood pressure. The pressure exerted during the heart muscle contraction is the systolic blood pressure and the same during heart muscle relaxation is the diastolic blood pressure. Normal pressure is said to be around 120/80.
High BP is an important risk factor for stroke, heart attack, heartbeat abnormalities, heart failure, kidney failure and visual impairment. Once the doctor rules out the secondary causes of hypertension and post lifestyle modifications, if BP is consistently more than 130/80, consider starting medicines.
What are the causes of high blood pressure?
The most common cause is primary hypertension which usually affects adults between the ages of 35- 55 years. It is predominantly due to peripheral arteriolar constriction due to hormonal effects.
The other causes are increased sympathetic activity in young adults and because of stiffness of artery in elderly population. In some other patients it is due to sedentary lifestyle and other associated diseases and some drugs. Excess salt intake, overweight, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, alcohol abuse, analgesics, nasal decongestants, obstructive sleep apnea and endocrine disorders can all lead to hypertension
What is your advice for a hypertensive patient?
To them, I would say, where applicable, stop smoking, avoid excess alcohol, maintain a healthy body weight, with a BMI that is less than 25, and restrict your salt intake. Do regular exercise at least five days a week amounting to not less than 150 minutes a week. Include fruits, vegetables, nuts, low fat dairy products and lean meat in your diet, and reduce stress
If I start these blood pressure medications do I need to take it throughout my life?
Some patients who stick to healthy lifestyle may be able to reduce the dose and the number of medications, leading to stopping them under medical supervision. But if the BP is still high despite lifestyle modifications, they may need to continue the medicines
for the entire duration of their life.
Do BP medicines damage the kidneys?
It is a common misconception among the public. On the contrary it protects the kidney from the deleterious effects of hypertension.
Different classes of medicines are available in the market. Are they the same? Do they serve the same purpose?
Each class of drug is unique in their mechanism of action and the side effects they have. Your doctor will select the most appropriate medicine for you considering the age, associated diseases, job profile and the lab results.