Hypertension awareness was defined as a physician’s self-reported prior diagnosis of hypertension among participants with hypertension. Unaware of hypertension was defined as blood pressure ≥ 140/90 mmHg without a prior diagnosis by a physician or the use of any antihypertensive medication
Hypertension is a chronic pathology in which the blood vessels have a persistently high tension, which can damage them. Blood pressure is the force exerted by the blood against the walls of the vessels (arteries) as it is pumped by the heart. The higher the tension, the more effort the heart has to exert to pump.
One of the characteristics of this disease is that it does not present clear symptoms and these can take a long time to manifest. However, it is the most prevalent cardiovascular risk factor.
The first consequences of hypertension are suffered by the arteries, which harden as they continuously support high blood pressure, they become thicker and it can be difficult for blood to pass through them. This damage to the walls of the blood vessels favours the depositing of cholesterol and triglycerides in them, which is why hypertension is a very important risk factor for the development of arteriosclerosis.
According to the WHO, one in three adults over the age of 25 has this disease, which causes about 9 million deaths a year from heart-related conditions.
Overweight individuals are more likely to have a higher blood pressure than those of normal weight. As weight increases, blood pressure rises and this is much more evident in those under 40 years of age and in women. The frequency of arterial hypertension among obese people, regardless of age, is between two and three times higher than that of individuals with a normal weight.
It is not clear whether obesity itself is the cause of hypertension or whether there is an associated factor that increases blood pressure in overweight people. Apparently, obesity is associated with another series of alterations that would be partly responsible for the increase in blood pressure. It is also true that weight reduction makes these alterations disappear.
Between 2.5 and 6 per cent of kidney-related problems can influence the onset of high blood pressure. In fact, they account for between 2.5 and 6 per cent of the causes. The main vascular pathologies that influence are:
- Polycystic kidney disease.
- Chronic kidney disease.
- Renin-producing tumours.
- Liddle’s syndrome.
- Renal artery stenosis.
Having healthy lifestyle habits and, above all, avoiding overweight and obesity, are the main factors to prevent the appearance of hypertension.
Specialists point out that eating a healthy diet and exercising can help the general population to be exempt from suffering from this pathology. Quitting smoking also prevents this pathology, since tobacco raises blood pressure.
In cases where there is a history of hypertension in the family and therefore there is a predisposition to be hypertensive over time, this genetic factor is an additional warning call for the patient to take care of these lifestyle habits and monitor their figures of blood pressure.
Blood pressure has two components:
- Systolic pressure: It is the highest number. It represents the tension generated by the heart when it pumps blood to the rest of the body.
- Diastolic pressure: It is the lowest number. It refers to the pressure in the blood vessels between heartbeats.
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). High blood pressure (HBP) is diagnosed when one or both of these numbers are high.
High blood pressure is classified as:
- Normal: from 120/80 to 129/84 mmHg.
- High Normal: 130/80 to 139/89 mmHg.
- Stage 1 hypertension: from 140/90 to 159/99 mmHg.
- Stage 2 hypertension: from 160/100 to 179/109 mmHg.
- Stage 3 hypertension: greater than 179/109 mmHg.
To treat hypertension there are two fundamental blocks of action:
Improvement of life habits
The patient has to follow a healthy diet, reduce the consumption of calories, sugars and fats and increase the practice of physical exercise. Both of these practices result in better weight control and if weight is well controlled it is an easy way to control hypertension. It is also recommended to quit smoking and avoid alcohol consumption.
In the event that changes in lifestyle do not work, today there are pharmacological treatments that are very useful to control blood pressure. Initially, these treatments start with a single drug. However, in some cases, this measure is not enough and they need to be combined with two or three medicines to control blood pressure.