What Is Hypertension: All the Facts You Need to Know | cannabisMD

What Is Hypertension: All the Facts You Need to Know

hypertension facts

Hypertension is more commonly known as high blood pressure. It is a common condition that in the long term can lead to health conditions, such as heart disease. This is likely if the force of your blood against your artery walls is high enough.
Blood pressure is based on numerical values assigned to the amount of blood your heart pumps and the level of resistance to this blood flow in your arteries. If your heart pumps too much blood into now narrower arteries it will elevate your blood pressure. You can have hypertension for years without a single symptom. Even without clear warning signs, the damage to your blood vessels and heart will continue. It can be medically detected at a health check up.

If your blood pressure remains uncontrolled you will be at risk of serious health complications like heart attacks and strokes. Hypertension develops over years and eventually affects nearly everyone with old age. Fortunately, though, hypertension is easy to detect and, once you know you have it, it can be controlled with the aid of your doctor. Hypertension can also be made less likely through healthy lifestyle changes.

How to Get a Blood Pressure Reading?

You should have routine doctor’s appointments when your blood pressure is taken. If not you should ask your doctor for a reading twice a year after the age of 18. If past the age of 40 you should ask for an annual reading.

Blood pressure should be checked in both arms to assure they are the same. It is also important to use the right arm cuff size. If you have been diagnosed with hypertension or have genetic risk of cardiovascular disease, your doctor will already likely recommend a higher frequency of readings. In the United States, children over 3 usually have their blood pressure measured at annual check ups just prior to the school year.

If you are unable to regularly see or afford a doctor, you may be able to get a free screening at a free clinic. You can find free blood pressure machines in some stores but they are not always accurate.

Symptoms
Most patients with hypertension, even when they have dangerously high blood pressure readings have no symptoms. A few may experience headaches, shortness of breath, or nosebleeds. Yet, these symptoms are not specific to hypertension and usually do not occur until it is severe or life-threatening.

Causes
With most adults there is no identifiable cause of hypertension. This most common form of hypertension is called primary or essential hypertension. It is the one that develops gradually over the years.

Secondary hypertension is caused by an underlying condition. This type of hypertension normally appears without warning and can cause higher blood pressure than primary hypertension. Causes of secondary hypertension include:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Kidney problems
  • Adrenal gland tumors
  • Thyroid problems
  • Certain defects you’re born with (congenital) in blood vessels
  • Certain medications, including birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers and some prescription drugs
  • Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines

Risk Factors

  1. Age: The risk of developing hypertension increases exponentially with age. Until age 64, hypertension is more likely diagnosed in men. After 65, the trend shifts, and women are more likely to develop high blood pressure. Although hypertension is most common in adults, children can be at risk to. Some children have high blood pressure because of problems with their kidneys or heart. A growing number of children have high blood pressure, due to an unhealthy diet, obesity, and lack of exercise.
  2. Race: High blood pressure is more common in people with more African heritage than in those with more European heritage. Serious related complications, including stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure, are also more common in people with more African heritage than European heritage.
  3. Genetics: Hypertension runs in families.
  4. Weight or obesity: The more you weight, the more blood is necessary to supply oxygen and nutrients to your bodily tissues. As the volume of the blood pushing through your arteries increases, as does the pressure on your artery walls.
  5. Physically inactive: People are do not exercise have higher heart rates. The higher your heart rate, the harder your heart has to work to contract and the stronger the pressure from blood flow on your arteries. Low physical activity can also add to weight gain.
  6. Tobacco use: Smoking and chewing tobacco temporarily raise your blood pressure immediately and, over the long term, chemicals in the tobacco can damage your artery walls’ internal lining. This can cause a narrowing of your arteries.
  7. Sodium-heavy diet: To much sodium in your diet can cause the body to retain less fluid which, in turn, increases blood pressure.
  8. Low-potassium diet: Potassium balances the amount of sodium in your cells. If you are low on potassium you can accumulate too high a level of sodium in your bloodstream.
  9. Over consuming alcohol: With time, heavy drinking will damage your heart. Having more than one to two drinks a day can raise your blood pressure in the long run.
  10. Stress: Increased stress can lead to temporary increase in your blood pressure.
  11. Some chronic conditions: Certain ailments, such as kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea, may increase your likelihood of developing high blood pressure.

Uncontrolled Hypertension Results
If left uncontrolled, hypertension can result in:

  • Heart attack or stroke: Hypertension can lead to hardening and thickening of arteries (atherosclerosis).
  • Aneurysm: Hypertension can cause your blood vessels to weaken and bulge, forming an aneurysm.
  • Heart failure: Hypertension causes the walls of the heart to thicken (left ventricular hypertrophy) and, eventually, the thickened walls may struggle to pump enough blood to meet the needs of your body–leading to heart failure.
  • Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in your kidneys: This may prevent kidneys from functioning normally.
  • Thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes: This can result in loss of vision.
  • Metabolic syndrome: This syndrome is caused by a cluster of disorders, involving increased waist circumference; high triglycerides; low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol; high blood pressure and high insulin levels. These conditions can make you develop diabetes, have a heart disease and have a stroke.
  • Trouble with memory or understanding: The neurological impacts of hypertension can impact how you think, remember, and learn.
  • Dementia: Narrowed or blocked arteries may limit blood flow to the brain leading to vascular dementia. If a stroke stops blow flow to the brain, the brain can also undergo vascular dementia.

Can Medical Cannabis Treat Hypertension?

Research suggests medical cannabis has Increased blood pressure, increased heart-rate, possible orthostatic intolerance (dizziness on standing) with short-term effects and decreased blood pressure and relaxation with long term effects.

In a novel study showed that cannabis use was said to have a modest connection to a rise in systolic blood pressure but they found no connection between cannabis use and diastolic blood pressure. The conclusion of the study was the need for further clinical trials to access the full relationship.

Another more concerning study suggests anyone who has smoked marijuana faces a higher risk of dying with high blood pressure, but it defines marijuana “users” as anyone who’s ever tried the drug and that it doesn’t differentiate among strains or cannabinoids of the highly unregulated product. The study’s primary researcher defined anyone who said they had ever tried marijuana as “a regular user.” Yet, according to another survey, about 52% of Americans have tried cannabis at some point, yet only 14% said they used the drug “regularly,” when defined as “at least once a month.”

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