High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is generally defined as having a baseline blood pressure above 140/90. Many people live for years with hypertension without knowing it, but there can be serious complications.
- Heart disease–when the heart has to struggle to pump, it can go into what is known as congestive failure, a potentially fatal condition. Angina, or chest pain, can occur when the heart does not get enough oxygen.
- Stroke–high blood pressure can cause balloon-like outpouchings in arteries in the brain. When these aneurysms burst a stroke can occur, causing crippling or even death.
- Kidney failure–many blood vessels carry blood through the kidneys to have toxins removed from the blood. Too much pressure can damage the kidneys.
- Sexual dysfunction–high blood pressure can cause low libido in women and erectile dysfunction in men.
- Peripheral artery disease can lead to pain, cramping, and tiredness.
- Poor vision can result from damage to blood vessels in the eyes and swelling of the optic nerve, which carries pictures from the eye to the brain.
- Hypertensive crisis is a medical emergency caused by extremely high blood pressure.
Prevention–making healthy lifestyle choices
- Maintain normal weight
- Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and veggies, nuts, beans, and whole grains.
- Perform physical activity daily.
- Avoid smoking and excess alcohol
Medications– the basics
- Diuretics–increase urination, lowering pressure by lowering amount of fluid in the blood vessels: spironolactone (Aldactone), hydrochlorothiazide (Hydrodiuril, Microzide), furosemide (Lasix)
- Beta blockers–relax and slow down the heart and dilate blood vessels: atenolol (Tenormin), bisoprolol (Zebeta), metoprolol, nadolol, propranolol (Inderal)
- Calcium channel blockers–relax heart and blood vessels: amlodipine (Norvasc, Lotrel) diltiazem (Cardizem CD, Cardizem SR, Dilacor XR, Tiazac) felodipine, nicardipine, nifedipine, nisoldipine, verapamil
- ACE inhibitors–block blood pressure-raising enzyme produced by kidneys: captopril, enalapril, lisinopril, ramipril
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers–help keep arteries open: candesartan (Atacand) eprosartan (Teveten) irbesartan (Avapro) losartan (Cozaar) telmisartan (Micardis) valsartan (Diovan)
- Alpha blockers–relax muscle tone of blood vessels: doxazosin (Cardura) prazosin (Minipress) terazosin (Hytrin)
- Central agonists–lower blood vessels’ ability to contract
- Peripheral adrenergic inhibitors–lower blood vessel contraction
- Blood vessel dilators–relax blood vessels
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