Classifications of Hypertension -Diagnosis, Symptoms, Treatment, Stages, and Classifications of Hypertension
What is Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a chronic medical condition characterized by elevated blood pressure levels that can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The classification of hypertension is based on the severity of the condition and the risk of complications. In this article, we will discuss the different classifications of hypertension and how they are diagnosed.
Classifications of Hypertension
There are two main classifications of hypertension: primary and secondary.
Primary hypertension, also known as essential hypertension, is the most common form of hypertension and has no identifiable cause. Secondary hypertension, on the other hand, is caused by an underlying medical condition, such as kidney disease or hormonal disorders. Secondary hypertension accounts for around 5-10% of all cases of hypertension.
The severity of hypertension is classified into different stages based on the systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts, while diastolic blood pressure is the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest between beats. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), and a reading of 120/80 mmHg is considered normal.
Stages of Hypertension
The following are the different stages of hypertension:
- Normal Blood Pressure Systolic Blood Pressure: Less than 120 mmHg Diastolic Blood Pressure: Less than 80 mmHg
- Elevated Blood Pressure Systolic Blood Pressure: 120-129 mmHg Diastolic Blood Pressure: Less than 80 mmHg
- Stage 1 Hypertension Systolic Blood Pressure: 130-139 mmHg Diastolic Blood Pressure: 80-89 mmHg
- Stage 2 Hypertension Systolic Blood Pressure: 140 mmHg or higher Diastolic Blood Pressure: 90 mmHg or higher
- Hypertensive Crisis Systolic Blood Pressure: Higher than 180 mmHg Diastolic Blood Pressure: Higher than 120 mmHg
Diagnosis of Hypertension
Diagnosing hypertension is a crucial step in the management of the condition. The diagnosis is usually made through the measurement of blood pressure. Blood pressure can be measured using a sphygmomanometer, which is a device that consists of an inflatable cuff, a pressure gauge, and a stethoscope.
When measuring blood pressure, the patient should be in a relaxed, seated position for at least five minutes. The cuff is placed around the upper arm, and the pressure is slowly increased to occlude the artery. The pressure is then released, and the systolic and diastolic pressures are recorded as the first and last sounds heard through the stethoscope.
Blood pressure should be measured in both arms, and the higher reading should be used for diagnosis. If the blood pressure reading is high, the measurement should be repeated on a separate occasion to confirm the diagnosis.
The diagnosis of hypertension is based on the average of two or more blood pressure readings taken on two or more separate occasions. The diagnosis is confirmed if the average systolic blood pressure is 130 mmHg or higher, or the average diastolic blood pressure is 80 mmHg or higher.
Causes of Hypertension
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Genetics: Hypertension can run in families, and certain genes can make a person more susceptible to developing high blood pressure.
- Lifestyle factors: Unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as a diet high in sodium and saturated fat, lack of physical activity, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to the development of hypertension.
- Age: As people age, the risk of developing hypertension increases. This is partly due to the aging process and partly due to the cumulative effects of other risk factors over time.
- Obesity: Excess body weight can increase the workload on the heart and blood vessels, leading to hypertension.
- Chronic kidney disease: Kidneys play a crucial role in regulating blood pressure. When the kidneys are damaged or not functioning properly, it can lead to hypertension.
- Endocrine disorders: Endocrine disorders, such as Cushing’s syndrome, hyperthyroidism, and pheochromocytoma, can cause hypertension.
- Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea, a condition that causes breathing interruptions during sleep, has been linked to hypertension.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), birth control pills, and steroids, can cause hypertension.
- Stress: Chronic stress can cause the body to release hormones that increase blood pressure.
It is important to identify the underlying cause of hypertension, as this can help guide the appropriate treatment plan. In some cases, treating the underlying cause can help lower blood pressure. However, in many cases, hypertension is due to a combination of factors, and lifestyle modifications and medications may be necessary to manage blood pressure effectively.
The treatment of Hypertension
The treatment of hypertension is aimed at lowering blood pressure to a level that reduces the risk of complications, such as heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. The treatment approach may vary depending on the severity of hypertension, the presence of other health conditions, and the patient’s overall health status. The following are some of the treatment options for hypertension:
- Lifestyle modifications: Lifestyle modifications play a significant role in the management of hypertension. These modifications include:
- Weight loss: Losing weight can significantly reduce blood pressure.
- Healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet that is low in sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol can lower blood pressure.
- Physical activity: Regular physical activity, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming, can help lower blood pressure.
- Quitting smoking: Smoking increases blood pressure and the risk of heart disease, so quitting smoking is essential for managing hypertension.
- Medications: If lifestyle modifications alone do not reduce blood pressure to a safe level, medications may be prescribed. There are several classes of medications used to treat hypertension, including:
- Diuretics: Diuretics, also known as water pills, help remove excess fluid from the body and lower blood pressure.
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors: ACE inhibitors help relax blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure.
- Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs): ARBs block the action of a hormone called angiotensin II, which can narrow blood vessels and increase blood pressure.
- Calcium channel blockers: Calcium channel blockers help relax blood vessels and reduce the workload on the heart, which lowers blood pressure.
- Beta-blockers: Beta-blockers reduce the heart rate and the force of the heart’s contractions, which lowers blood pressure.
- Complementary therapies: Some complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, biofeedback, and relaxation techniques, may help reduce blood pressure. However, these therapies should be used in conjunction with other treatment options, not as a substitute.
- Surgery: In rare cases, surgery may be recommended to treat hypertension. Surgery may be used to remove an adrenal gland tumor, which can cause hypertension, or to open or replace a narrowed artery.
The goal of hypertension treatment is to achieve and maintain a blood pressure level below 130/80 mmHg. The treatment plan may need to be adjusted over time to ensure that blood pressure remains at a safe level. It is important to follow the treatment plan recommended by your healthcare provider, attend regular check-ups, and make necessary lifestyle changes to manage hypertension effectively.
Symptoms of Hypertension
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, often has no symptoms in the early stages. This is why hypertension is sometimes called the “silent killer”. However, as hypertension progresses, some people may experience the following symptoms:
- Headaches: Headaches are a common symptom of hypertension, but they are not always present. The headaches may be severe and feel like pulsating pain in the back of the head or the temples.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness: Hypertension can cause a feeling of dizziness or lightheadedness, especially when standing up too quickly.
- Blurred vision: Blurred vision or vision changes can occur when hypertension is severe or long-standing.
- Chest pain: Chest pain or discomfort may occur when hypertension is severe and affects the heart.
- Shortness of breath: Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing can occur when hypertension affects the heart or lungs.
- Nosebleeds: Nosebleeds can be a sign of hypertension, but they are not common symptoms.
It is important to note that these symptoms can be caused by other conditions as well, and not all people with hypertension will experience these symptoms. Therefore, regular blood pressure check-ups are necessary to detect hypertension early and prevent complications.
In addition to these symptoms, hypertension can also cause damage to organs such as the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels, leading to serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. It is crucial to managing hypertension early to prevent these complications from occurring.
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