By Dr. Sergio Lopez Salamanca

Hypertension is a chronic disease characterized by continuous elevation of blood pressure numbers. It is generally considered as high blood pressure when the maximum number, called the systolic pressure, is at 140 or more millimeters of mercury and the minimum number, called the diastolic pressure, is recorded as 90 or more millimeters of mercury.

High blood pressure is called essential when there is apparently no specific cause that produces it and it is called secondary when it is possible to identify any alteration of the organism as a direct cause of this condition. Essential hypertension is the most common type in people over 50 years.

The most common symptoms of the disease include headache, ringing in the ears, dizziness and some visual disturbances . The intensity of these symptoms is variable so it is common that they can go unnoticed, delaying the diagnosis, which represents a significant risk because, although the symptoms may be mild, if the disease is not controlled in a timely and correct fashion, it may promote the development of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack or brain hemorrhage, in addition to causing damage to other organs such as the kidneys.

Among the causes more strongly linked with the onset of this disease is overweight and  obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, a diet rich in sodium and fat, smoking and alcohol abuse. It is also known that there is a genetic predisposition in some people, so it is useful to investigate whether this condition exists among close relatives, as this increases the risk.

There are different medications to achieve a good control of the disease, but treatment should always be accompanied by actions to change lifestyle, including aerobic physical activity such as swimming or walking and the institution of a diet that avoids harmful food, as mentioned above.

Self-monitoring of blood pressure levels is useful and provides a simple method to perform since there are now different types of devices for measuring these figures, many of them affordable and easy to use. For measuring blood pressure you must do so after a few minutes of rest (about five minutes ), preferably seated, leaning back in your seat, your arm resting comfortably on a piece of furniture, with the measuring bracelet  placed over the heart, with the palms up and the soles of the feet flat on the floor. Write down the pressure figures obtained and communicate them to your doctor.  Remember that drug prescription and the total control of the disease should always be done by a doctor. Self-medication can be as dangerous as no treatment.

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