Hypertension is a medical term for high blood pressure. In the UAE, hypertension is considered one of the most serious health matters as just within the UAE alone, 30% of all adults suffer from high blood pressure according to a 2018 study by the Dubai Health Officials.

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Hypertension can be fatal when left untreated and is also known as the silent killer as it can result in stroke or heart attack and prove fatal without any warning symptoms.

With that being said, having awareness regarding the condition and understanding the stages, and types of hypertension is important to preventing, treating and managing it from causing damage to our health. 

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension occurs when blood pressure is running higher than average. The importance of getting regular check-ups for blood pressure, especially in older age people is to help regulate it as without testing; high blood pressure does not demonstrate any noticeable symptoms.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can result in organ damage, heart disease as well as heart attack and stroke. Blood pressure levels of hypertension can be broken down into stages to help distinguish the best treatments and courses of action to take. 

The Stages of Hypertension

The stages of hypertension can be categorized into 4 different stages.

  • Normal – systolic less than 120 mm Hg and diastolic less than 80 mm Hg
  • Elevated – systolic between 120-129 mm Hg and diastolic less than 80 mm Hg
  • Stage 1 – systolic between 130-139 mm Hg or diastolic between 80-89 mm Hg
  • Stage 2 – systolic at least 140 mm Hg or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg

Using these guidelines, anyone who tests with an elevated level of blood pressure with systolic between 120-129 mm Hg and diastolic less than 80 mm Hg, you should seek medical advice immediately.

Blood pressures can fluctuate daily, which is why it’s essential to test it often, especially if you have a medical condition such as diabetes, obesity, or a family history of hypertension.

The Different Types of Hypertension

1. Primary hypertension

Also, known as essential hypertension, most adults who have hypertension will fall under this type. The exact cause of primary hypertension is still unknown; however, a combination of genetic, dietary, age, and lifestyle factors do influence it. Other factors, such as stress, alcohol.

Too much sugar and salt also influence its development. Dietary and lifestyle changes will help to lower the risk of primary hypertension and manage it from reaching concerning levels.

2. Secondary hypertension

Secondary hypertension is practically the same as primary hypertension; however, you can identify the cause of it, and it is potentially reversible. Secondary hypertension is very rare, as only 5 to 10% of all people with hypertension fall under this type. Common causes for this type of hypertension include:

  • Narrowing of arteries that supply blood to kidneys
  • Side effects on certain use of medications
  • Use of antidepressants and other over the counter medications
  • Hormone abnormalities
  • Thyroid abnormalities
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea

3. Other types of hypertension include:

  • Resistant hypertension – is the name given to high blood pressure that requires multiple medications due to difficulty controlling high blood pressure.
  • Isolated systolic hypertension – occurs when systolic blood pressure above 140 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure under 90 mm Hg. This type of hypertension occurs mainly in older people, the leading cause being the stiffening of arteries due to ageing.
  • Malignant hypertension – is a term used to describe high blood pressure that has caused or is causing damage to your organs. This type of hypertension must be treated as a medical emergency and can be characterized when blood pressure is elevated at >180 mm Hg systolic or >120-130 mm Hg diastolic.

When to See a Doctor?

When blood pressure levels are at heightened levels, you may experience the following:

  • chest pain
  • headache
  • Visual changes
  • Dizziness, and confusion
  • Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath

When any of these signs occur in your health, seek medical attention and treatment immediately. These symptoms are likely signals that your high blood pressure has reached the advanced stages. 

Treatment and Management of Hypertension

Lifestyle changes are the first thing you can do to manage and treat hypertension. Here are a couple of things you need to start doing to improve the condition:

  • Eating fresh whole foods and avoiding heavily processed foods and ingredients
  • Cut back on sugar, saturated fats, and carbohydrates
  • Exercising and improving your cardiovascular health
  • Manage stress and practice more relaxation methods
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Cut back on unnecessary medication
  • Eat less salt

Medication can also be prescribed by your doctor to help you manage your blood pressure. It is essential to speak with your doctor and use prescription medication as opposed to using over the counter medication that has not been recommended to you. Your doctor will prescribe you the correct medication and advise you with the proper course of action based on your health. 

If you are unsure whether hypertension is affecting your health or if you are at risk, get tested with your general practitioner. It would help if you had regular testing regardless of whether hypertension has ever affected you.

Known as the silent killer, the only way to manage hypertension and prevent it is to be tested to be safe. Your doctor can also advise you on getting a testing kit that you can use to test blood pressure levels at home.

Head over to the Okadoc app to immediately book an appointment with your health practitioner.