Hypertension has always been a big health problem, especially for adults. But many people still turn a blind eye to the urgency of the situation after being diagnosed with the condition. Public health officials also say a large number of people do not have their high blood pressure under control.

What Is Hypertension?

Hypertension is when the pressure in the blood vessels is too high or way above the normal range. This is why it is often referred to as high blood pressure, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Having normal pressure in the blood vessels (120/80 mmHg) is necessary for the normal functioning of the body. When the blood pressure stays high for a long time, it could damage the heart and cause other health problems.

Many factors increase the likelihood of having hypertension, including:

  • Older age
  • Genetics
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • High salt diet

What Are The Symptoms?

Unfortunately, the condition usually has no symptoms. The only way to know if one has it is to get their blood pressure measured, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Hypertension is diagnosed when a person records blood pressure readings equal to or above 140/90 mmHg on two different days, per the WHO.

The organization also noted that for some people, high blood pressure is manifested in symptoms such as headache, blurred vision, chest pain, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, nosebleeds and buzzing in the ears, among others.

How Common Is Hypertension?

Based on updated statistical data obtained by the WHO, around 1.28 billion adults aged 30 to 79 have hypertension. Most of them live in low- and middle-income countries. Around 46% of adults with hypertension are also unaware that they have the condition.

Hypertension is a major cause of premature death worldwide. However, only 42% of the global adult population with hypertension is diagnosed and treated. Also, only 21% or 1 in 5 adults have the condition under control.

In the U.S., nearly half (47%) of adults (116 million) have hypertension. Only 24% or 1 in 4 adults have their condition under control. The medical condition costs the country about $131 billion each year, per a CDC report.

High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke - two leading causes of death in the country. In 2020, the U.S. recorded more than 670,000 deaths with hypertension as a primary or contributing case, added the agency.

Latest Research Related To Hypertension

A new study from Sweden underscored the importance of salt regulation after determining the role of high salt intake in the buildup of plaques in the arteries in the heart and neck.

Study author Jonas Wuopio, M.D., of the Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge and the Clinical Research Center At Uppsala University, said their findings suggest the possibility of salt causing damage to the vascular system even before the blood pressure is affected.

"Ours is the first study to examine the association between a high salt intake and hardening of the arteries in both the head and neck. The association was linear, meaning that each rise in salt intake was linked with more atherosclerosis," Wuopio said.

Heart disease in women
Research suggests health disparities among young women and men who have suffered from a heart attack are partly because of gender differences in risk factors. Pixabay