The human heart is a pump. It pumps blood to every other part of the body including itself. Just like any other pump, the efficiency of the human heart depends on two things: the functionality of the heart muscles (strength of the pump) and the well being of the blood vessels (pipes). A fault in any of the two or both of them results in inappropriate functioning of the whole pump system including all the other blood dependent organs in the body (all of them).
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure or as our dear grannies like to simplify it “pressure” is defined as a blood pressure that is so high that it disrupts normal functioning of body organs or the pump mechanism itself. If the pump pumps so hard, it will result in high pressure in the vessels. On the other hand, following the laws of physics, if the vessels are too narrow, the pressure in them will increase despite the pump working optimally.
There are many conditions in the body that can result in either of these two mechanisms of hypertension. However, the most common cause of an increased blood pressure is not known. This means that the patient presents with an elevated blood pressure but the heart and the vessels have no identifiable structural abnormality. This is known as essential or primary hypertension. This occurs in about 95% of cases of hypertension. The other 5% in which there is an identifiable structural abnormality is known as secondary hypertension.
Frequently Asked Questions
Not so long ago, and still in some settings, blood pressure (BP) is measured using an instrument called a sphygmomanometer. However, with the increase in technology currently blood pressure in measured using an automated BP machine. These come in a wide variety and all vary in how they are used but if used correctly often give the correct readings. Blood pressure readings are often recorded in two parts, written as a fraction, measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). X/y mmHg.
The numerator is referred to as Systole and it measures the strength with which the heart pumps out blood while the denominator measures the strength with which the heart fills up with blood. This is called diastole. Normal blood pressure reading is defined a systolic BP less than 120 mmHg and a diastolic of less than 80 mmHg. Those with systolic readings of between 120 and 139 and diastolic between 80 and 89 mmHg are referred to as prehypertensive. Stage 1 hypertension is systolic blood pressure between 140 and 159 mmHg and diastolic of between 90 to 99 mmHg. A systolic blood pressure of greater than 160 and diastolic more than 100 is stage 2 hypertension and is a medical emergency.
All medical facilities including the Kisumu Heart Center conduct blood pressure checks routinely on all new patients and daily on all admitted patients. It is considered one of the vital signs. We advise all our clients to check their blood pressures regularly to avoid late diagnosis of hypertension or development of the severe complications of high blood pressure.ECG and Echo are also essential in evaluating the cause of hypertension.
As stated above, 95% of cases of hypertension have no identifiable cause. However, research has shown that there are numerous lifestyle factors that act as risk factors for development of hypertension. These include; cigarette smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, high salt intake and alcohol overuse. Other non-lifestyle factors are: increased age, being of the male gender, family history of hypertension, diabetes, diseases of the kidney and diseases of the thyroid gland. In case an underlying cause of hypertension is identified we prioritize its treatment. It is important to note that a high blood pressure may be as a sign of another disease such as preeclampsia in pregnancy.
Isolated abnormal blood pressure readings are not diagnostic of hypertension. Follow up measurements are required to make a diagnosis. The Kisumu heart center conducts schedules free blood pressure measurements campaigns in Kisumu and its environs. Any patient found to be hypertensive is referred to our facility where they are tested, counseled and started on appropriate blood pressure medication.
In most uncomplicated cases of high blood pressure, the symptoms are either nonspecific or non-existent. Some of the common complaints include headache, dizziness, easy fatiguability, ringing in the ears and an abnormally strong heartbeat. The most dreaded aspect of hypertension however, is as a result of the very high blood pressures that can cause organ damage and sudden death.
Complications arise from either too much pressure on the vessels or overactivity of the heart. Overactivity of the heart results in heart failure and heart attack which are both fatal. Excessive pressure in the vessels causes stroke (bleed in the brain), kidney failure and failure of other organs and even blindness. To prevent all these life-threatening occurrences, Kisumu heart Center strongly encourages regular blood pressure checkups and prompt treatment of positive cases.
Here at Kisumu Heart Center, we strongly discourage over the counter treatment of any disease to avoid potential toxicities or mistreatment which could worsen the condition. Treatment of hypertension is however lifelong unless a specialist advises one to stop or take a break. For more information on Hypertension or for consultation services; visit our offices at …. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone number 0731555212. You can also visit our Kisumu Offices at LOCATION.