What Is Hypertension?

Hypertension is more commonly known as high blood pressure. As blood circulates through the body, it presses against the walls of the arteries, exerting pressure on them. A blood pressure reading takes two types of pressure into account:

  • Systolic blood pressure – This is the first number in a blood pressure reading (for example, the 120 in 120/80 mmHg). It measures the amount of pressure exerted when the heart beats.
  • Diastolic blood pressure – This is the second number in a blood pressure reading (for example, the 80 in 120/80 mmHg). It measures the amount of pressure exerted between heartbeats.

According to the American College of Cardiology’s 2017 Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults, blood pressure can be divided into the following four ranges:

  • Normal blood pressure – Systolic blood pressure is less than 120 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure is less than 80 mmHg.
  • Elevated blood pressure – Systolic blood pressure is between 120 and 129 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure is less than 80 mmHg.
  • Stage 1 hypertension – Systolic blood pressure is between 130 and 139 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure is between 80 and 89 mmHg.
  • Stage 2 hypertension – Systolic blood pressure is at least 140 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure is at least 90 mmHg.

What Are the Symptoms of Hypertension?

Many people with hypertension do not experience any noticeable symptoms, which is why it is important to regularly attend doctor appointments and have your blood pressure tested. With that said, in some instances, high blood pressure can cause:

  • Headaches
  • Nosebleeds
  • Shortness of breath

What Causes Hypertension?

For many people, high blood pressure has no identifiable cause (this is known as “primary hypertension” or “essential hypertension”). This type of hypertension typically develops gradually, often due to plaque buildup within the arteries (atherosclerosis). Because plaque accumulation makes the arteries narrower, the heart must work harder to pump blood through them, leading to high blood pressure.

In other instances, hypertension is caused by an underlying condition or substance (this is known as “secondary hypertension”). For example, high blood pressure may result from:

  • Adrenal gland tumors
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Certain medications (including certain birth control pills, cold medications and pain relievers)
  • Certain illegal drugs (including amphetamines and cocaine)

When compared to primary hypertension, secondary hypertension tends to develop more suddenly.

What Are Hypertension Risk Factors?

The following risk factors can increase a person’s chances of developing high blood pressure:

  • Eating too much salt
  • Not exercising enough
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Leading a stressful life
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Smoking, chewing tobacco or vaping
  • Being at an advanced age
  • Having a family history of high blood pressure
  • Being pregnant

How Is Hypertension Treated?

If high blood pressure is left untreated, it can damage various organs throughout the body—including the brain, eyes, heart and kidneys—and lead to serious complications such as an aneurysm, dementia, a heart attack, heart failure, a stroke or vision loss. So, if you think you might have hypertension, you should promptly consult with an experienced medical provider.

High blood pressure treatment often involves making certain lifestyle changes (notably, if you don’t have high blood pressure, taking these steps can also help prevent hypertension). For example, your doctor may recommend that you:

  • Eat a nutritious diet that’s low in sodium (a healthy diet often includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry and fish)
  • Exercise more often (you should check with your doctor before starting a new workout regimen, but many providers recommend exercising 30 minutes per day, five days per week)
  • Lose excess weight
  • Lower your stress levels
  • Sleep more (adults should try to sleep between seven to nine hours each night)
  • Reduce your alcohol consumption (many doctors recommend no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men)
  • Quit smoking

If changes like these don’t lower your blood pressure to a normal level, then your doctor may recommend that you treat your condition with medication. Some of the medications commonly used to treat high blood pressure include:

  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Water pills (diuretics)

Why See a Nephrologist for High Blood Pressure?

Hypertension, is a common health problem that affects approximately 46% of adults or almost 1 out of every 2 adults in the United States. It becomes more common as people grow older. When people are diagnosed with hypertension, they generally assume they will need to see a cardiologist. However, if hypertension is not well controlled, it can lead to kidney disease. For this reason, patients are often referred to nephrologists, who specialize in conditions affecting the kidneys.

Kidneys and Hypertension

There is a strong connection between high blood pressure and kidney disease. When hypertension damages the arteries that deliver blood to the kidneys, the kidneys are not able to get enough oxygen and nutrients. As a result, they cannot perform their intended functions, which include filtering blood and regulating the body’s acids, fluids, hormones and salts. According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure behind diabetes. For this reason, nephrologists are uniquely qualified to treat high blood pressure and can show patients how to reduce hypertension.

Hypertension Treatment in Tampa Bay

If you believe that you might have high blood pressure, you can turn to Florida Medical Clinic and nephrologist, Dr. Deliz-Tirado for diagnosis and treatment. FMC has been serving the Tampa Bay community since 1993 and offers nephrology care in North Tampa, Wesley Chapel and Zephyrhills. Click here to request an appointment with Dr. Deliz-Tirado at one of these locations, or call us at (813) 782-3727.

About Beverly Deliz-Tirado, MD

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Dr. Beverly Deliz-Tirado earned her medical degree from the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine. She completed a residency in internal medicine as well as a fellowship in nephrology at the University of South Florida, Morsani College of Medicine. She is board certified in both internal medicine and nephrology. When not treating patients, Dr. Deliz enjoys spending time outdoors with her family.



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