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Hypertension Symptoms Causes Treatment

Some people can prevent or control high blood pressure by changing to healthier habits, such as:

  • Following the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Eating Plan, which includes cutting down on salt and sodium and eating healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products
  • Losing excess weight and staying at a healthy weight
  • Being physically active (for example, walking 30 minutes every day)
  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting alcohol intake

Chocolate and Cocoa

Many studies have confirmed that chocolate and cocoa can lower blood pressure (reference). The major ingredient is flavonoid, which belongs to a group of compounds called polyphenols. Flavonoid is an antioxidant and also a vasodilator that enhances blood flow. Cocoa and dark chocolate (but not white or milk chocolate) are rich in flavonoid.

Medications

Sometimes it is necessary to add medicine to help lower blood pressure. Medicines will control blood pressure, but they cannot cure it. You will need to take blood pressure medicine for a long time.

Blood pressure medicines work in different ways to lower blood pressure. Often, two or more medicines work better than one. Some medicines lower blood pressure by removing extra fluid and salt from your body. Others affect blood pressure by slowing down the heartbeat or by relaxing and widening blood vessels.

Below are the types of medicine used to treat high blood pressure:

Diuretics are sometimes called water pills. They work by helping your kidneys flush excess water and salt from your body. This reduces the amount of fluid in your blood, and your blood pressure goes down. There are different types of diuretics. They are often used along with other high blood pressure medicines and may be combined with another medicine in one pill.

Beta blockers help your heart beat slower and with less force. Your heart pumps less blood through the blood vessels, and your blood pressure goes down.

Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors keep your body from making a hormone called angiotensin II, which can increase blood pressure by (1) causing blood vessels to narrow and (2) causing salt reabsorption. By inhibiting the production of angiotensin II, blood pressure goes down.

Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) are newer blood pressure medicines that prevents the effects of angiotensin II by blocking its receptors.

Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) keep calcium from entering the muscle cells of your heart and blood vessels. This causes blood vessels to relax, and your blood pressure goes down.

Alpha blockers reduce nerve impulses that tighten blood vessels, allowing blood to pass more easily and causing blood pressure to go down.

Alpha-beta blockers reduce nerve impulses to blood vessels the same way alpha blockers do, but they also slow the heartbeat, as beta blockers do. As a result, blood pressure goes down.

Nervous system inhibitors relax blood vessels by controlling nerve impulses from the brain. This causes blood vessels to become wider and blood pressure to go down.

Vasodilators open blood vessels by directly relaxing the muscle in the vessel walls, causing blood pressure to go down.

It is important that you take your blood pressure medicine at the same time each day and not skip days or cut pills in half to save money.

Hypertensive Crisis

Hypertensive crisis is a severe hypertension, with blood pressure above 180/120 mmHg. It is traditionally divided into urgency and emergency. The hypertensive urgency has the following symptoms

  • Severe headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe anxiety

Hypertensive urgency requires immediate medical treatment to lower blood pressure. Otherwise it may damage blood vessels and lead to stroke or other complications.

In hypertensive emergency, the severe hypertension is complicated by organ dysfunction, such as brain bleeding or heart attack. It requires hospitalization and intensive care.