Blood pressure varies from one individual to another and is determined by both the amount of blood that the heart pumps and the amount of resistance to the flow of blood that occurs in the arteries. Hypertension is a condition that occurs when the blood is forced at the artery walls at a high pressure, which is why the problem is more commonly known as high blood pressure. Understand the causes of hypertension, the symptoms to look out for and the treatments that may be required for sufferers.
Causes. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are two types of high blood pressure: primary and secondary hypertension. Primary, or essential, hypertension occurs with no determinable cause. Essential hypertension is common in adults and is likely to develop over many years. Secondary hypertension is caused by an underlying health condition. This type of hypertension tends to develop suddenly and causes higher blood pressure than primary hypertension. The most common underlying conditions that lead to this condition are kidney problems, adrenal gland tumors, congenital defects and medications.
Symptoms. The majority of people suffering hypertension do so without any noticeable symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, headaches, dizzy spells and nosebleeds can occur in patients with early-stage hypertension, but more commonly appear in sufferers with severe or even life-threatening high blood pressure. The Mayo Clinic recommends that you ask your doctor for a blood pressure test every two years from the age of 18.
Treatment. According to the American Heart Association, individuals with blood pressure above 140/90 mm Hg often need to be treated for "serious cardiovascular problems." As such, treatments are intended to keep patients at or below this rating. A number of different medications are available to hypertension sufferers. According to the Mayo Clinic, thiazide diuretics help the body eliminate sodium and water, reducing blood volume. Beta blockers open the blood vessels, causing the heart to beat slower and therefore with less force. If your doctor prescribes medication, you will also be required to make lifestyle changes to complement your treatment. A healthy, balanced diet, along with regular exercise, can help reduce hypertension.