High blood pressure (BP), medically known as hypertension, is a medical condition characterized by having a resting sustained elevated blood pressure of systolic BP greater than or equal to 140mmHg, diastolic BP greater than or equal to 90mmHg or both. Individuals with hypertension usually do not develop signs or symptoms unless it is intense or long term. Risk factors for hypertension include age, obesity, high salt diet, alcohol, smoking, diabetes and having a family history of hypertension. This medical condition is dangerous as it can lead to further complications in the body, such as heart attack, heart disease, heart failure, kidney disease and strokes.
Causes of Hypertension
Hypertension is either classified as primary or secondary. If it has no known cause, it is identified as primary, which accounts for most of the cases. Secondary hypertension is due to an identified cause. There are several factors that can alter the blood pressure of the body:
- Amount of salt and water in the body
- Kidney, blood vessel and nervous system conditions
- Levels of hormones in the body, such as renin, angiotensin and aldosterone, among others
- Stressful situations
Secondary hypertension can be due to the following existing medical conditions:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Adrenal gland disorders, such as primary aldosteronism
- Taking certain medications, such as, diet pills, birth control pills, and medicines for colds
Signs and Symptoms of Hypertension
The following are signs and symptoms that are commonly associated with hypertension:
- Intense headache
- Nose bleed
- Stiffness of the body
- Feeling anxious
- Sudden weakness
Classification of Hypertension
Blood pressure is defined as the measurement of pressure or force against the artery walls as the heart pumps through the body. The readings for blood pressure are given as two numbers. Systolic blood pressure refers to the top (high) number, whereas the diastolic blood pressure sis the bottom (low) number. Blood pressure classification for individuals 18 years old and above is as follows:
- Normal: Systolic is 120mmHg or lower, Diastolic is 80mmHg or lower
- Prehypertension: Systolic is between 120-139mmHg, Diastolic is between 80-89mmHg
- Stage 1 hypertension: Systolic is between 140-159mmHg, Diastolic is between 90-99mmHg
- Stage 2 hypertension: Systolic is 160mmHg or higher, Diastolic is 100mHg or higher
First Aid Management for Hypertension
The following first aid tips are recommended when a person experiences hypertension:
- Tell the patient to take deep breaths and reassure them
- If the patient is in a stressful situation, remove the person from the stress.
- If the patient’s nose is bleeding, administer appropriate first aid.
- Give drinks that are high in potassium to help balance the amount of sodium (salt) in the body to lower blood pressure levels.
How to Prevent Hypertension
There are several ways to prevent this chronic condition, which include:
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and minimize the amount of salt in the diet.
- If one is overweight or obese, lose weight.
- Drink plenty amounts of water.
- Exercise for at least 150 minutes a week.
- Do not smoke and limit alcohol intake.
Understanding hypertension can help when taking First Aid Courses as it is a great risk factor for many medical emergencies, such as strokes and heart attack. Hypertension is a condition is sustained elevated resting blood pressure of greater than or equal to 140mmHg/90mmHg.