Hypertension or high blood pressure is a common illness in our society. It is commonly referred to as a “silent disease,” because it does not announce itself with any hallmark signs and has no universal symptoms.
High blood pressure is a lifestyle related health problem. In spite of its silent manifestation, there are very few symptoms that together with warning signs in the medical history usually make a doctor suspect high blood pressure.
Frequent headache has long been considered a possible warning sign of high blood pressure. For decades, clinical observation has suggested that people with high blood pressure get headaches more often.
High blood pressure is linked to a number of other medical problems. Problems like blood clots, stroke, and heart attack are much more frequent in people who have high blood pressure. Similarly, kidney problems, liver problems, and a number of hormonal disturbances can contribute to or cause the development of high blood pressure.
Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is the name used to refer to a group of related diseases that are all caused when damage occurs to the heart muscle. It is similar to angina, but is a more advanced disease.
The classic symptoms of acute coronary syndrome are chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating, and sometimes nausea or palpitations. Having this disease is not the same thing as having a heart attack, but heart attacks are considered to be a type of acute coronary syndrome.
Heart attacks are caused by an interruption of blood flow through the coronary arteries, which supply the heart muscle with oxygen and nutrients.
High blood pressure raises the risk of heart attacks and increases the likelihood that a heart attack, if one occurs, will be severe. This increased risk is because high blood pressure stresses the heart and makes it work harder than normal. This contributes to the formation of blockages that can disrupt blood flow.
Strokes, like heart attacks, are caused by an interruption of blood flow. In the case of stroke, the interruption is in the brain. When blood flow to the brain is interrupted, the areas of the brain depending on that blood are damaged.
Sometimes strokes, like heart attacks, happen because a blood vessel becomes clogged and blood cannot flow past the blockage. In other cases, a small blood vessel can actually rupture, and flow is reduced because the blood leaks out of the vessel. High blood pressure increases the risk of both of these events.
The kidneys are the body’s most important long-term blood pressure regulators. They are also sensitive to the effects of increased blood pressure, which damages the sensitive filters responsible for regulating the amount of fluid in the body. Kidney damage and high blood pressure are a self-reinforcing circle, with high blood pressure causing damage which, in turn, leads to even higher blood pressure. Kidney damage is one of the most dangerous long-term complications of high blood pressure.
Atrial fibrillation is a disorganized heart beat. While atrial fibrillation causes changes in the pumping efficiency of the heart, which affects blood flow throughout the body.
This also changes blood flow within the heart itself and provides a set of conditions that can favour the formation of tiny blood clots. These blood clots then get pumped out into the body, where they can get stuck in the tiny blood vessels that supply the brain.
This leads to an interruption of blood flow through the blocked vessel, which can cause a stroke. High blood pressure changes the pumping dynamics of the heart, and can cause the heart to grow and stretch, favoring the development of atrial fibrillation.