Living Healthy

What is Hypertension?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), An estimated 1.28 billion adults aged 30-79 years worldwide have hypertension.


By Team ArabiaMD

 • 3 min read • 
What is Hypertension?

Hypertension: A Silent Killer


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hypertension affects an estimated 1.28 billion adults aged 30-79 years worldwide. It is a common condition that often goes unnoticed, with approximately 46% of adults being unaware that they have hypertension. Hypertension is also a leading cause of death globally. In the UAE, the prevalence of hypertension is expected to increase due to a sedentary lifestyle.

Understanding Hypertension

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a condition that develops over time and usually does not present noticeable symptoms. However, it can cause damage to organs and blood vessels, particularly the heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes. Hypertension is determined by the amount of blood pumped by the heart and the resistance to blood flow in the arteries. Narrow arteries create more resistance, resulting in higher blood pressure. Increased pressure can lead to long-term problems such as heart disease.

Diagnosis and Monitoring

Blood pressure readings are used to diagnose and monitor hypertension. These readings consist of two numbers: systolic pressure (top number) and diastolic pressure (bottom number). A healthy blood pressure reading is below 120/80 mm Hg. The following categories define different stages of hypertension:

  • Elevated high blood pressure: Systolic number between 120-129 mm Hg and diastolic number below 80 mm Hg.
  • Stage 1 hypertension: Systolic number between 130-139 mm Hg or diastolic number between 80-89 mm Hg.
  • Stage 2 hypertension: Systolic number of 140 mm Hg or higher, or diastolic number of 90 mm Hg or higher.
  • Hypertensive crisis: Requires urgent medical attention, characterized by a systolic number higher than 180 mm Hg or diastolic number over 120 mm Hg.

Symptoms of Hypertension

Although hypertension usually does not have noticeable symptoms, some indicators may suggest its presence. These include:

  • Recurring headaches
  • Shortness of breath, especially during exercise
  • Dizziness
  • Frequent nosebleeds

Severe high blood pressure symptoms may include:

  • Vision disturbances
  • Severe headaches
  • Dizziness (feeling like vertigo)
  • Nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite

Types of Hypertension

There are two types of hypertension:

  1. Primary (essential) hypertension: Develops gradually over time and may be influenced by factors such as age, genetics, race, sedentary lifestyle, high alcohol consumption, obesity, high sodium consumption, and diabetes or metabolic syndrome.
  2. Secondary hypertension: Occurs suddenly and can be more severe. It is often caused by conditions such as illegal drug use, kidney disease, medication side-effects, obstructive sleep apnea, thyroid problems, congenital heart disease, chronic alcohol consumption, various endocrine tumors, and adrenal gland problems.

Diagnosis and Treatment

To diagnose hypertension, doctors may recommend several tests, which may include lab tests, ambulatory monitoring (a 24-hour blood pressure monitoring test), echocardiogram, and electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) to measure the heart's electrical activity.

The treatment of hypertension often involves lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication. Lifestyle changes may include:

  • Regular exercise
  • A healthy diet low in sodium
  • Weight loss
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Quitting smoking

Regular blood pressure tests are essential for managing hypertension, as severe high blood pressure can lead to serious health problems. It is never too late to prioritize your health and make positive lifestyle changes.