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Hypertension: Definition

Blood pressure (more correct term than "blood") is the pressure that blood exerts on the artery walls. It is expressed in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) or inches of mercury (cmHg) and two digits, eg 130/80 mmHg or 13/8 mm Hg.

The first (130) corresponds to the maximum or systolic blood pressure, the second (80) to the minimum or diastolic pressure.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is defined by the continuous increase in blood pressure from 140/90 mmHg (or 14/9 mmHg). Hypertension in pregnancy has the same limitations. There is talk of severe hypertension when these numbers reach 180/110 mmHg that either a man or a woman.

Hypertension: risk

Hypertension is the most common disease and around the world. According to the latest WHO report published in 2011, nearly 8 million deaths per year, or 13% of annual deaths are related to complications of hypertension 25% of adults are affected and nearly 6 million women are currently treated daily.

An estimated 15 to 16 million people have high blood pressure and 70% of treated hypertensive patients are older than 60 years

In the short term, and abrupt elevation of blood pressure can cause acute suffering organs such as the brain (hypertensive encephalopathy, cerebrovascular accident) or heart (acute coronary insufficiency, cardiac failure). This is a medical emergency.

In the long term, untreated hypertension is a powerful risk factor for cardiovascular heart disease is the second leading cause of death (nearly 150 000 deaths every year) after cancers (Source: Inserm-C├ępiDc Epidemiology Center on causes of death, 2008).

The prevalence of hypertension is estimated at 31% in the population aged 18 to 74 years. If it fell broadly after data 35-64 years, detection and control of hypertension remains inadequate, particularly among men (Source: health status of the population - Monitoring targets attached to the Public Health Act - 2011 Report DREES)

In the absence of treatment, hypertension causes complications: heart failure, angina, myocardial infarction, stroke, renal failure. They appear even faster than:

  • the level of blood pressure is high,
  • The cumulative impact of other cardiovascular risk factors: smoking, total cholesterol or LDL fraction of his, diabetes, personal history of cardiac or vascular. Are added low HDL cholesterol, smoking. This risk score is increased today low HDL cholesterol, waist circumference (abdominal obesity), metabolic syndrome, family history of heart. It also tends to incorporate a secondary physical inactivity, depressive syndrome, insecurity.

The causes of hypertension

In 5% of cases, hypertension is secondary to illness, injury (renal artery stenosis, pheochromocytoma ...) or a medication (birth control pills, cortisone ...).

In all other cases, the hypertension has no specific cause. Called "essential", it is favored by a mother or father with hypertension, advanced age (70% of hypertensive patients over 60 years), a diet too rich or too salty, lack of physical activity, the alcohol abuse, overweight. Smoke, have high cholesterol or diabetes, also play a promoter. As for stress, if it contributes to the temporary rise in blood pressure, it is not enough to cause her permanent increase, which defines hypertension.

Hypertension: symptoms

Most often, hypertension does not produce symptoms. It is a silent disease is discovered incidentally during a consultation (physician, occupational physician ...), or on the occasion of a complication.

Rarely, hypertension is a hypertensive crisis reveals perceptible ringing in the ears, headache, like seeing black spots (floaters) in front of the eyes. Associated with a nosebleed for no known reason, this table should alert; urgent consultation is required before the occurrence of an arterial bleeding, especially in the brain (stroke). Hospitalization is systematic.

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