Essential hypertension is also known as primary hypertension. The cause is idiopathic, but it is thought to be linked to genetics, poor diet, and obesity.
Secondary hypertension is caused by either a disease or medication. Conditions or disease that affect the kidneys, arteries, lungs, etc. can cause hypertension. Treatment involves treating both the underlying cause and the hypertension.
Some patients are asymptomatic when hypertension occurs. However, when blood pressure becomes extremely elevated, the increase in arterial pressure can cause a patient to have a constant headache.
Increase in blood pressure can cause an increase in pressure on the blood vessels in the eyes. This causes the vessels to become strained or swell resulting in vision changes or eye pain.
Chronic nosebleeds can be the result of hypertension. Vessels in the nose can burst from the increase pressure causing the nosebleed.
The increase in oxygen demand by the heart to beat harder can cause chest pain, if the oxygen demands cannot be met.
Some patients that have hypertension will have a form of orthostatic blood pressure. This can cause a patient to faint or become dizzy upon standing.
American Heart Association recommends that when hypertension is in question; take a set of blood pressures two minutes apart. Average the two blood pressures to determine what stage the patient could be in.
To properly diagnose hypertension, a patient needs to have elevated blood pressure readings on two or more subsequent office visits in a 1-4 week timeframe. Further, if the patient has a BP of >180/110 and CV risk factors, a diagnosis of HTN can be made off a single visit.
Take the blood pressure on different arms to confirm an accurate reading. In some health conditions, such as: coarctation, thrombus, etc., blood pressure readings may be different and the provider should be notified.
The African American population is at the highest risk of developing hypertension. However, it is important to educate every patient on the risk factors for hypertension and what lifestyle changes need to take place to manage the risk factors.
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