Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure is a persistent medical condition that affects the body’s arteries. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to supply tissues with oxygen and nutrients. The two chambers present in heart called the ventricles contract with each heartbeat to push blood to the lungs and through the arteries to the body. As blood flows through these chambers, there are three main factors that affect the pressure on your artery walls.
First is the cardiac output, or the amount of blood your ventricles push out of your heart each minute. The blood pressure goes up as the cardiac input increases.
The second factor affecting your blood pressure is the blood volume, or the total amount of blood in your body. Blood pressure rises up as blood volume increases.
The third factor is resistance, that is, anything working against the flow of your blood. There are several causes for this resistance. The flexibility of the artery walls matters. Healthy arteries expand with each heartbeat to help reduce blood pressure on the wall. The diameter of the artery is another factor in resistance. The body increases the diameter of your arteries to lower the blood pressure and also reduces the diameter to raise the blood pressure. Yet another important sign is blood viscosity, or thickness. The presence of more particles such as proteins or fats increase viscosity. If the blood is thick, the pressure rises as the heart works harder to push blood through the arteries.
When your heart beats, the pressure of blood on the walls of your arteries is called “systolic pressure”. Whereas, when the heart relaxes between the beats, the pressure on the artery wall is called “diastolic pressure”. The blood pressure varies throughout the day, though it should normally be less than 120 mmHg for systolic pressure, and less than 80mmHg for diastolic pressure. In cases where the systolic pressure frequently stays above 140mmHg or the diastolic pressure stays above 90mmHg, the person is said to have high blood pressure.
The condition can weaken and damage the walls of the arteries. Minor tears in the artery walls caused by this can also attract certain substances in the blood such as cholesterol, fat and calcium to form plaque. The pressure in the arteries increases as the plaque enlarges. Blood cells can even stick to the plaque and can form solid clots.
The prevalence of hypertension is also the most common reason for cardiovascular diseases in adults. High blood pressure shows up as a condition wherein relentless force of the blood against artery walls is so high that it gradually harms the kidney other vital organs. It’s important to understand that the higher the blood pressure and the longer it’s left uncontrolled, the more severe the damage.
A newly revealed matter of concern comes in the form of a recent study by the journal Hypertension. It found that babies exposed to polluted air conditions have a risk of increased blood pressure since childhood. It also found that inhaling polluted air during pregnancy can negatively affect the cardiovascular health of the offspring during childhood. These results from the study clearly emphasise how important it is to assure reduced emissions of PM2.5 in the environment. PM2.5 particles are perilous as they are small enough to enter deep into the lungs. The main source of these particles is the burning of fossil fuels (such as coal), organic matter (including wood and grass) and most other materials, such as rubber and plastic. The exposure to unhealthy air doesn’t only increase the risk of health issues but can also pave way for disrupted and unhealthy fetal growth while increasing the chances for risks of hypertension.
When it comes to prevention for hypertension, eating the right food and exercising are some key measures that can help in keeping one fit as fiddle. One should cut down the total salt intake and avoid high sodium packaged and processed eatables. Eating a low-sodium diet can help in maintaining balanced blood pressure. Keeping a check on your blood pressure and monitoring it more often can help you spot any issues before they become serious. Keeping a track on your lifestyle habits to figure out where you can make changes to help prevent hypertension can be a healthy initiative. Snacking on fruits and vegetables instead of unhealthy junk food is something that should be a part of your daily routine. Adopting such lifestyle changes can help prevent high blood pressure and other life threatening diseases.