Frequently asked questions about High Blood Pressure

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Does hypertension produce symptoms?

It does not have any specific symptoms. However, severe hypertension may be associated with headaches. In most cases it is actually the headaches which cause the high blood pressure.

I have high blood pressure; will my children also have hypertension?

Individuals with one hypertensive parent have a 25% chance of developing hypertension. This probability increases to 50% if both parents have hypertension.

Is there such a thing as nervous hypertension?

Blood pressure may increase when you are nervous, or during periods of stress due to problems at work, bereavements, separation, etc., but it is only temporary. These short-term increases in blood pressure values are reduced by tranquillisers. Stress can trigger or contribute to the onset of hypertension, but it does not cause or aggravate it.

How can we start preventing hypertension early in life?

By controlling weight, taking part in physical exercise and avoiding a high-salt diet from childhood.

Is there a direct relationship between obesity and hypertension?

Hypertension is much more common in people who are overweight or obese. When a person gains weight it tends to increase their blood pressure, whereas when they lose weight it often decreases. Weight control is one of the most important factors in the treatment of high blood pressure. Furthermore, by just reducing their weight, many patients may eliminate the need to take medication.

Why is hypertension more common during the menopause?

The increase in blood pressure that occurs after the menopause is mainly due to a lack of oestrogen, although other factors also play a part, such as weight gain, an unhealthy diet, a sedentary lifestyle, etc.

What blood pressure values are high enough to warrant going to emergency services?

Patients with hypertension do not usually present any symptoms, even with very high blood pressure values. They do not normally need immediate medical attention and therefore do not have to visit emergency services, except in extreme cases where the blood pressure reaches values of 200/120 mmHg and is accompanied by severe cardiovascular problems (pulmonary oedema, heart attack, stroke, etc.). However, patients should request an appointment with their primary care doctor to outline a study and establish the appropriate treatment and follow-up.

Do I have to rest before measuring my blood pressure?

You should sit down and rest for at least 5 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. In addition, you should not drink anything with caffeine (including cola soft drinks and carbonated energy drinks, coffee and tea) or alcohol, or smoke tobacco in the 15 minutes before the measurement.

Is it better to measure blood pressure while seated or lying in bed?

You should sit comfortably in a chair with a backrest, with your feet placed firmly on the floor and your arm placed on a table.

Which blood pressure monitoring devices are recommended?

Electronic devices that comply with applicable validation standards are currently recommended as they are easy to use and reliable. It is preferable to select one designed for measurements on the arm.

I have hypertension, do I have to take medication?

In the case of moderate hypertension, maybe only a programmed diet and physical exercise plan are necessary. If these measures are not enough, then there is a wide range of medicines that can also be used. Your doctor will select a suitable medication and the correct dose. Nevertheless, you must remember that just because you take antihypertensive tablets it does not mean you can stop following the prescribed diet and exercise plan recommended for you.

Can antihypertensive tablets be combined with any other medications?

People with arterial hypertension must be aware that certain cold medicines, such as nasal decongestant drops, some syrups or medicinal preparations (e.g., ephedrine), or anti-inflammatories can interfere with their antihypertensive medication.

Can hypertension be cured?

Primary (essential) hypertension cannot be cured. It is a lifelong condition that can be controlled by following a healthy lifestyle and taking the prescribed medicine. Only high blood pressure due to another medical condition (secondary hypertension) can be cured, but not always, if the underlying disease is resolved.

What are the consequences of hypertension if it is not controlled?

If high blood pressure is not reduced to normal values, then it can cause damage to the brain, heart, eyes or kidneys. This damage may prove fatal or cause permanent disability. Therefore, it is essential that patients strictly follow the treatment throughout their entire lifetime.

Is erectile dysfunction common in patients with hypertension?

It is estimated that 14% of patients receiving treatment with antihypertensive drugs will experience erectile dysfunction at some time in their lives, whether because of the condition or the medications used to treat it.

Are there any foods or medications that increase blood pressure levels?

Among the substances or medicines that can raise blood pressure levels are: liquorice, oral contraceptives, anti-inflammatories, cortisone, cocaine, amphetamines and effervescent medicines.

Why is it important for patients with hypertension to exercise regularly?

Physical exercise helps decrease blood pressure values. It also reduces heart rate and the risk of angina or suffering a heart attack (ischaemic cardiomyopathy). What is more, it contributes to weight loss, improves cholesterol and triglyceride levels, promotes calcium uptake by bones and reduces anxiety.

What are the most recommendable types of exercise?

The best types of exercise are aerobic activities, for example, walking, swimming, cycling, Nordic walking, running, etc. It needs to be performed nonstop for at least 20–30 minutes daily and at least 3 days per week. You should follow a customised exercise plan, taking into account your age, level of exercise practised previously, any other illnesses that contraindicate exercise and your current state of health.

What is the maximum daily consumption of alcohol for someone with hypertension?

For men, the recommended amount of alcohol is a maximum of 20 g per day, which is equivalent to a 200 cc (o 200 ml) glass of wine, two beers or 80 ml of distilled drinks. For women, the recommended volumes are half of those for men.

Substantiated information by:
Antonio CocaMedical Internist — Internal Medicine DepartmentDolors EstradaNurse — Internal Medicine Department

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018

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