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Hypertension - #RivaDigital offers digital solutions

fact sheet
Name(s): Hypertension; high blood pressure
Type of disease: chronic
Prevalence: world wide
First mention: 16th century
Treatable: partially
Type of trigger: stress; certain diseases
How many affected: Approx. 1 billion worldwide
Specialist competence: Family doctor; Internist

 

Hypertension (high blood pressure, hypertension) is a widespread disease in the industrialized countries and therefore also in Switzerland. According to estimates, a quarter of the Swiss population has an increased value – often without suspecting it because high blood pressure is usually not accompanied by discomfort. Over the years, however, high levels of blood pressure damage the body, especially important organs such as the heart, coronary vessels, brain, kidneys and blood vessels. But there is a ray of hope: everyone can do a lot to lower their blood pressure and thus prevent illnesses.

The pressure with which the blood flows is measured in those blood vessels leading away from the heart (arteries). Two readings indicate whether the heartbeat and vascular walls produce normal or elevated pressure. If the values ​​are constant at 140 to 90 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) or above, there is hypertension.

The most important goal in the treatment of high blood pressure is therefore to permanently reduce the excessive pressure to a normal value. This effectively prevents the insidious damage to the organs and the serious consequences of this disease, which could occur years later.

What is hypertension?

Primary hypertension
Hypertension refers to a disease of the vascular system. This is burdened by permanently excessive blood pressure and ultimately damaged. Doctors speak in this case of hypertension or arterial hypertension. If no organic cause is found, this type of hypertension is called essential or primary hypertension. This affects about 90 percent of all hypertensives.


Secondary hypertension
In about 10 percent of hypertensives, organic diseases are the cause of high blood pressure. For example, the narrowing of the renal arteries contributes to this. Doctors in such cases speak of a secondary hypertension and as far as possible primarily treat the underlying disease. This is often enough to successfully reduce excess blood pressure to normal levels.

The causes

The causes
A complex mechanism helps regulate blood pressure in the human body. Several biochemical messengers, organs, blood vessels and the nervous system interact with each other. However, this interaction has only been partially explored so far. Therefore, it is not yet conclusive in medicine, which disturbed interaction ultimately causes high blood pressure. In other words, the exact physical causes for high blood pressure are still unknown.


Beneficial factors
Numerous studies have shown that certain factors favor high blood pressure. These are mainly hereditary disposition and the individual lifestyle. The four most important factors for high blood pressure include low exercise, unhealthy diet, overweight and stress.

Symptomes and signs

Hypertension or high blood pressure can last for years without attracting attention through complaints or other symptoms. For a long time, many hypertensives do not know about their condition. Once the first symptoms become apparent, it is clear that the disease is already well advanced.

The risk of high blood pressure is thus, asymptomatic damage to the body over a longer period of time and only much later revealing the life-threatening consequences. Hypertension therapy helps prevent insidious damage to the organs at an early stage. It is therefore important to be aware of a number of subtle symptoms that may signal high blood pressure. These are:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nosebleeding
  • Buzzing in one’s ears

If the damage to individual organs has already progressed, a variety of symptoms can indicate hypertension. Often the following symptoms indicate organ damage due to hypertension:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Breathing distress
  • Chest pain (angina pectoris)
  • Impaired vision or sensibility disorders
  • Heart attack and stroke
Diagnosis and measurement

Because high blood pressure is long without discomfort and symptoms, this diseas is usually diagnosed late. Primary hypertension contributes to this, which for unnoticeable causes goes unnoticed even for decades.

To be able to diagnose high blood pressure, it is important to measure blood pressure. For the doctor, the measurement of the blood pressure is probably the most important but not the only finding for the diagnosis. Ultimately, the diagnosis of hypertension is confirmed when at least two measurements on two separate days yield blood pressure readings of 140 over 90 mmHg or more.

So that the blood pressure measurement is not falsified, each measurement is preceded by a sitting or lying rest of at least five minutes. Also, a local narrowing of the vessel can falsify the blood pressure measurement. Therefore, it is recommended to measure the blood pressure on both arms and legs.

Two readings are taken to measure the blood pressure. The first and at the same time higher value is the systolic blood pressure. It stands for the pressure that arises when the heart contracts. The blood is pumped into the arteries. Thereafter, the heart relaxes, providing the second and lower reading: the diastolic blood pressure. Both measurements are always given in pairs and divided into classes. If the values ​​are found in two different classes, the higher grade always applies.

Those who measure their own blood pressure and receive elevated readings should repeat the measurement after a few minutes. If multiple measurements repeatedly result in elevated levels, a physician should be consulted.

 

Classification systolic diastolic
optimal < 120 < 80
normal < 130 < 85
high-normal 130-139 85-89
mild hypertension (severity 1) 140-159 90-99
moderate hypertension (severity 2) 160-179 100-109
severe hypertension (severity 3) > 180 > 110
isolated systolic hypertension (only the first, upper value is too high) > 140 < 90

Therapy and treatment

The earlier you start with hypertension therapy, the more effectively you can avoid organ damage and prevent serious sequelae such as a heart attack or stroke. A long-term and sufficiently low blood pressure protects the cardiovascular system and promotes good health.

The goal of hypertension therapy is primarily to lower pressure to below 140 to 90 mmHg at rest. If there are other diseases besides hypertension, different recommendations apply. For diabetics and people who have already had a stroke, blood pressures of 140 to 85 mmHg and 130 to 80 mmHg are considered desirable.

High blood pressure therapy is always based on individual needs and can include dealing with stressful situations and lifestyle changes in addition to the general measures and antihypertensive drugs.

Tips for prevention

Healthy lifestyle as a key
The key to normal blood pressure, and even more so for high blood pressure, is a healthy lifestyle. For many, this means a very significant change in their way of life in the developed world and in Switzerland – but at the same time a worthwhile one. Because this can already readily reduced a slight hypertension to normal levels. Even with advanced disease, a changed lifestyle can help to reduce the need for medication.


What constitutes a healthy way of life can be summarized in 10 tips:

  1. regularly measure blood pressure
  2.  follow the doctor’s instructions
  3. strive for and maintain as normal a body weight as possible
  4. renounce or limit the consumption of alcohol
  5. use more spices as a substitute for common salt
  6. prefer to eat fruit and vegetables
  7. prefer vegetable fats and high-quality oils
  8. give up smoking or limit nicotine consumption
  9. increase physical activity
  10. plan breaks and ensure restful relaxation

These tips are recommended for all hypertensives because the success of many affected speaks for itself. Even if it does not work right away with all the tips, their adherence has ultimately helped many to lower their blood pressure solely by a healthier lifestyle.