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Altapresyon (Hypertension): Everything you need to know

Altapresyon, or hypertension, is a common health condition that affects millions of Filipinos. It occurs when the force of blood against the walls of your arteries is consistently too high, putting extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. Left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, and kidney damage.

In this blog post, we'll discuss everything you need to know about altapresyon, its causes, symptoms, and risk factors, and how to manage it through lifestyle changes and medications.

What is High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure, or altapresyon, is a medical condition characterized by elevated blood pressure levels. It is measured in two numbers, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and is expressed in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

Many experts define high, elevated, and normal blood pressure as follows:

  • High – Top number (Sys) of 130 or above and/or bottom number (Dia) of 80 or above.

  • Elevated – Top number between 120 and 129 and the bottom number 79 or below.

  • Normal – Top number of 119 or below and bottom number of 79 or below.

What are the Symptoms of Hypertension?

Unfortunately, hypertension is often called the "silent killer" because it doesn't usually cause any noticeable symptoms. That's why checking your blood pressure regularly is essential, especially if you have any risk factors such as a family history of hypertension, obesity, smoking, or a sedentary lifestyle.

What are the Causes of Hypertension?

Hypertension can have various causes, including:

  • Genetics: If your parents or siblings have hypertension, you're more likely to develop it too.

  • Unhealthy lifestyle choices: A diet high in salt and unhealthy fats, lack of physical activity, and excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to hypertension.

  • Age: As you age, your blood vessels become less flexible, making it harder for blood to flow through them.

  • Chronic conditions: Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, and sleep apnea can increase your risk of hypertension.

How Can I Lower My Blood Pressure?

Fortunately, you can make several lifestyle changes to help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of developing hypertension. Here are some tips to get started:

  • Start low and go slow: Make small changes to your lifestyle gradually rather than drastically changing all at once.

  • Lose weight: If you're overweight or obese, losing even a small amount can help lower your blood pressure.

  • Improve your diet: Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, and limit your intake of processed foods and unhealthy fats.

  • Reduce salt: Aim to consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, and avoid adding salt to your meals.

  • Become more active: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily, such as brisk walking or cycling.

  • Drink less alcohol: Limit your alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

Why Do I Need Medicines to Treat High Blood Pressure?

Sometimes lifestyle changes alone may not be enough to control your blood pressure, and your doctor may recommend medications to help lower it. These medications work in different ways to relax your blood vessels or decrease the fluid in your blood. They can help prevent hypertension-related severe health problems like heart disease, stroke, and kidney damage.

Which Medicines Might I Need?

There are several types of medications used to treat hypertension, including:

  • Diuretics: Help your body eliminate excess salt and fluid, reducing blood volume in your blood vessels.

  • ACE inhibitors and ARBs: Relax your blood vessels, making blood flow more manageable.

  • Calcium channel blockers: Help relax your blood vessels and decrease the workload on your heart by reducing the amount of calcium that enters the heart muscle cells.

  • Beta-blockers: Decrease your heart rate and reduce the force your heart uses to pump blood.

  • Aldosterone antagonists: Block the action of a hormone called aldosterone, which can increase blood pressure by causing the body to retain salt and fluid.

Your doctor will determine which medication is best for you based on your health needs and any other medications you may be taking.

Are There Any Medicines I Should Avoid?

Working closely with your doctor to find the proper medication for you and avoid any potential drug interactions is essential. You should also be aware of any side effects of your medications and notify your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms.

In conclusion, altapresyon (hypertension) is a serious health condition affecting many Filipinos. It's essential to check your blood pressure regularly and make lifestyle changes such as losing weight, improving your diet, and becoming more physically active to help lower your blood pressure. Medications may sometimes be necessary to control blood pressure and prevent serious health problems. By working closely with your doctor and making the necessary lifestyle changes, you can manage your hypertension and improve your overall health and well-being.

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