What is hypertension?
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a common condition affecting around 20-25% of the adult population. Most patients have what is called “essential” hypertension in which no specific cause can be identified. About 10% of patients however have an identifiable cause (secondary hypertension). These secondary causes include hormonal abnormalities, renal artery diseases, sleep apnoea, certain medications, and kidney disease.
The effects of hypertension
Hypertension has many adverse effects including increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. It also has an adverse effect on kidney function.
The good news is that effective treatment of high blood pressure reduces the risk of these conditions. Because of the strong association with kidney disease, nephrologists specialise in the treatment of hypertension.
There are a number of non-pharmacological measures that can be used in the treatment of hypertension including weight loss, low salt diet, exercise, cessation of smoking, stress reduction measures, avoidance of certain medications, reduced caffeine intake and treatment of sleep apnoea.
All persons with hypertension should follow these non-pharmacological measures but sometimes they are not sufficient, and medication is needed (in addition to the non-pharmacological measures). These days we fortunately have many effective drugs that can be used to control hypertension. Often more than one drug is needed to get to target blood pressure.