Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is a chronic medical condition characterized by elevated arterial pressure levels. Hypertension treatment in the USA typically involves a combination of lifestyle modifications and, when necessary, medication. Lifestyle changes may include:
- Adopting a heart-healthy diet.
- Engaging in regular exercise.
- Limiting alcohol intake.
- Reducing sodium consumption.
- Managing stress.
Blood pressure measures the force exerted by the blood on the walls of the blood vessels. This blood is typically pumped into the blood vessels by the heart, which then carries the blood across all body parts.
The blood pressure is measured with systolic pressure (top) and diastolic pressure (bottom).
Stages of Hypertension
According to the American Heart Association guidelines, hypertension is diagnosed when blood pressure falls within specific categories:
- Stage 1 Hypertension: Systolic: between 130-139 or Diastolic: between 80-89
- Stage 2 Hypertension: Systolic: 140 or higher and Diastolic: 90 or higher
- Hypertensive crisis: Systolic: Above 180 and Diastolic: Above 120
Thus, Hypertension is nothing but high blood pressure and is a severe condition because it makes the heart work harder to pump blood into the body and, if not controlled, can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failures.
While the exact causes of hypertension are still unknown, medical practitioners attribute this condition to specific factors, namely:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Increases salt intake
Signs that you need hypertension treatment
High blood pressure often has no symptoms for years, even when dangerously high. High blood pressure can affect some individuals in different ways. A few signs that some people with high blood pressure may experience include:
- Shortness of breath
However, these symptoms aren’t specific. High blood pressure must reach a severe or life-threatening stage before symptoms appear.
Diagnosis of Hypertension
The evaluation of hypertension involves measuring blood pressure, obtaining a medical history and physical exam, and routine lab tests. By following these steps, you can determine the following:
- Presence of end-organ disease
- Possible causes of Hypertension
- Cardiovascular risk factors
Other studies may be obtained based on clinical findings or in individuals with suspected secondary Hypertension and evidence of target-organ disease, such as CBC, chest radiograph, uric acid, and urine microalbumin.
Hypertension treatment in the USA
High blood pressure can be managed through lifestyle changes your healthcare provider recommends.
- Eating a heart-healthy diet with less salt
- Getting regular physical activity
- Maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight
- Limiting alcohol
- Not smoking
- Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily
Sometimes, lifestyle changes alone may not be sufficient in managing high blood pressure. Your doctor might prescribe medication to assist in lowering your blood pressure.
When to see a doctor
Blood pressure screening is an integral part of general health care. How often you should check your blood pressure depends on your age and overall health.
It’s essential to get your blood pressure checked periodically. If you’re 18 years or older, request a blood pressure reading from your healthcare provider at least once every two years.
However, if you’re 40 years or older, or between 18 and 39, with a high risk of high blood pressure, it’s recommended to check your blood pressure every year.
Your care provider will likely recommend more frequent readings if you have high blood pressure or other risk factors for heart disease. Children three and older may have blood pressure measured during their yearly checkups.
If you don’t regularly see a care provider, you can get a free blood pressure screening at a health resource fair or other locations in your community. Free blood pressure machines are also available in some stores and pharmacies.
The accuracy of blood pressure machines depends on several factors, including proper cuff size and correct usage. It is recommended to consult your healthcare provider before using public blood pressure machines.
Long-term hypertension can lead to atherosclerosis, where plaque buildup narrows blood vessels and worsens hypertension by requiring the heart to pump harder.
Hypertension-related atherosclerosis can lead to:
- heart failure and heart attacks
- aneurysm, or an atypical bulge in the wall of an artery that can burst
- kidney failure
- hypertensive retinopathies in the eye, which can lead to blindness
Regularly monitoring blood pressure can help individuals prevent severe complications.
Management of Hypertension
- Eat healthy foods
- Use less salt
- Limit alcohol
- Don’t smoke
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get more exercise
- Practice good sleep habits
- Manage stress
Hypertension treatment in the USA has made significant strides in recent years. With a growing understanding of the condition and advancements in medical technology, healthcare providers have various effective options.
Overall, hypertension treatment in the USA is a multifaceted endeavor that requires collaboration between healthcare providers, policymakers, and the community.