Hypertension 101

Hypertension 101

Hypertension, also known as High Blood Pressure, is a condition when the blood flowing through the blood vessels is too high. It is a chronic blood pressure disorder that affects the entire human body and is usually asymptomatic. Hypertension is known as the “silent killer” and a leading cause of cardiovascular disease and heart dysrhythmias. Essential hypertension is high blood pressure without a known cause. It is important to be aware of this and take full control and responsibility for your own cardiovascular health. If you have high blood pressure, it is of the upmost importance to find the root cause and treat it.


Hypertension affects millions of people across the globe. 50-75 million Americans are hypertensive. 95% of cases are essential hypertension meaning they do not know what the actual cause of their hypertension is. Currently 25% of the world’s population has hypertension and it is predicted that 1 billion adults will have it by 2025. That’s 1/3 of adults worldwide. Because hypertension can be silent, many people are undiagnosed and unaware that they even are hypertensive.


Hypertension is a serious problem that should not be overlooked. Seeking and treating the organic cause is the most effective way to manage it. Two main causes for hypertension are insulin resistance and sleep apnea. Anything that causes inflammation or oxidative stress can lead to high blood pressure.  Inflammation drives hardening and stiffening of arteries which causes blood pressure to increase. Mineral deficiencies, gut dysbiosis and gut inflammation can all lead to hypertension as well. Chronic stress is another main cause of high BP. Cigarette smoking damages the endothelium- the inner lining of blood vessels.

An overlooked cause of high blood pressure is low stomach acid. Individuals with with heartburn who use acid blocking medications, such as, famotidine and omeprazole can have a magnesium deficiency. These acid blocking medications block the production of stomach acid, which relieves the heartburn symptoms. This is a problem, however, because stomach acid is essential in the absorption of vitamins and minerals, like magnetism, potassium, calcium and vitamin D. This is where getting to the root cause of the hypertension is very important. Not all cases of hypertension have to be treated with a medication. Finding and treating the true cause is imperative as it can lead to microvascular effects in the eyes, brain, kidneys, and heart.

Signs and symptoms

Hypertension is a “silent” or asymptomatic condition. When individuals go to the doctor they usually present with no complains or symptoms, except a high blood pressure reading of 140/90 or greater. In more moderate to severe cases, pain in the back of the head in the mornings, fatigue, dizziness and light headedness may be present. In hypertensive urgencies or emergencies, nosebleeds, heart palpitations, and severe headaches may be experienced. High blood pressure if improperly managed or left untreated can lead to stroke, heart attack, dementia, kidney failure, blindness, erectile dysfunction, and peripheral vascular disease.

Dx + testing

The JNC-8 criteria states that a person must have a systolic blood pressure reading over 140 and a diastolic blood pressure reading over 90 to be considered hypertensive. Borderline high BP is 130/80 or greater. Normal BP is 120/80. New research is showing that an optimal blood pressure reading is 115/75.

Testing for hypertension includes ambulatory BP monitoring for 24 hours and initial comprehensive lab testing. The problem with diagnosing high BP from a reading in the doctors office is that many individuals suffer from “white coat hypertension.” They simply get nervous or anxious just being at the office, which raises their blood pressure. This is why an ambulatory BP monitor for 24 hours while the individual is performing their daily activities like going to the grocery store, doing chores around the house, etc is more accurate to detect high blood pressure.

Tx + Mgmt + Prevention

Treatment for hypertension depends on the cause. Your primary healthcare provider can manage your hypertension, but for moderate to severe cases you should see a hypertensive specialist like a cardiologist. Management includes diet, exercise, weight loss, and medication therapy. Medications include beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors, alpha blockers, angiotensin II receptor blockers, diuretics, magnesium supplementation, and a few more depending on the mechanism of action.

Stress management techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, exercise, and ice baths promote a healthy blood pressure and heart rate. A diet low in starch and sugar is crucial for a healthy weight. If the hypertension is caused by sleep apnea, treatment would consist of weight loss and wearing a CPAP mask to sleep every night. If the hypertension is caused by a low magnesium level then magnesium supplementation would be warranted to promote blood vessel relaxation. Not all hypertension has to be treated with medication therapy.

Hypertension prevention includes daily exercise- moderate to brisk intensity aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day 4-5 times per week. Maintaining a healthy weight and minimizing belly fat is key in preventing high blood pressure and chronic low-grade inflammation. Smoking cessation and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption also play a major role in hypertension prevention.

Keys to success

The main keys to success are stress management and being a healthy weight. Excessive belly fat and chronic stress promote an inflammatory environment throughout the whole body down to the inner lining of blood vessels. Practicing yoga, deep breathing, cardiovascular exercise, and going to the sauna help prevent stress, weight gain, and chronic inflammation. Minimizing inflammation is key to for optimal blood vessel function. Most importantly, avoiding cigarette smoking is supreme in hypertension and cardiovascular disease prevention.

Hypertension and self-awareness

Awareness is essential when taking charge of your hypertension. Get to know yourself. Assess and record your blood pressure in a journal every morning. Bring it with you to your appointments and show your results to your healthcare provider. Inform your provider right away if you ever experience any hypertensive symptoms, or  obtain a blood pressure reading of 160/110 or greater. Be productive and take charge of your health, discover the root cause of your hypertension. Be mindful of alcohol and cigarette consumption. Reach out to people who believe in you and support you. You are not alone.

Final thoughts

Hypertension is known as the silent killer and impacts millions of adults worldwide. It is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease and leads to microvascular damage in the eyes, heart, brain, kidneys, and peripheral arteries. Hypertension is preventable and treatable. It is up to you to take charge of your health. You are the CEO of your own health.

Thank you for reading this post.