Hypertension doesn’t present symptoms in the early stages, but its silent nature doesn’t make it any less dangerous. It’s linked to the number one killer in the United States: heart disease.
Elevated blood pressure doesn’t just harm the heart, but it can harm any organ and tissue where blood vessels are present, as an increase in force in the blood damages blood vessels.
Fortunately, with regular office visits and a personalized treatment plan, you can stop hypertension in its tracks before it harms you. You can live a long, healthy life if you keep your blood pressure well-controlled.
So what does treating raised blood pressure entail? We’ve asked Dr. Muthu Velusamy, our expert at the Cardiovascular Institute of America, to explain what causes hypertension and what medications are available to treat it.
Hypertension risk factors
All blood pressure medications target one or more of the following: blood volume, heart rate, and the contraction of blood vessels. Aside from medications, other factors can increase your blood pressure, including the following:
- Cigarette smoking
- Chronic stress
- Excess body weight
- Sedentary lifestyle
Stimulants such as caffeine can lead to the narrowing of blood vessels, requiring blood to move through the blood vessel with more force. Smoking cigarettes also narrows blood vessels, while chronic stress may lead to contractions in blood vessels caused by the secretion of stress hormones.
Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle raise blood pressure in several ways. These include the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, an increase in inflammation markers, and decreased insulin sensitivity.
The sympathetic nervous system is part of the autonomic nervous system and is responsible for the body’s stress response. It raises blood pressure and blood sugar, mobilizing the body toward action.
Medications used to treat hypertension
Depending on the cause of your hypertension, or whether there’s a known cause at all, you may be recommended one or more of the following:
- Beta blockers
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs)
- Calcium channel blockers
Beta blockers work by blocking some of the receptors on the heart responsible for muscle contractions, decreasing heart rate and, as a consequence, decreasing blood pressure.
ACE inhibitors and ARBs work in a similar way. The former decreases the narrowing of the vessels by inhibiting angiotensin, while the latter blocks the angiotensin receptors from having an impact on blood vessel constriction.
Finally, calcium channel blockers partially block the movement of calcium in the body. Calcium contracts the heart, so lower levels of circulating calcium lead to fewer contractions and less pressure on the heart.
Learn more about our approach to treating hypertension
Each patient is unique. They have their own medical history and risk factors that contribute to their hypertension.
For example, some suffer from primary hypertension, which means the cause of their elevated blood pressure is unknown. Others suffer from secondary hypertension, which means their elevated blood pressure is secondary to another illness. With secondary hypertension, blood pressure is managed by managing the underlying illness.
Dr. Velusamy is aware that each patient requires personalized care, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. If you’re looking for a detail-oriented provider, contact us to schedule an appointment and get expert advice on your hypertension.