Dear Parents

High blood pressure is known to be a silent killer, as it can silently cause damage to your blood vessels and heart without even knowing.

High Blood pressure is when the blood applies force on the blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood. It starts in the hearts ventricles and affects the capillaries, arteries and arterioles. While it flows through them, and when the pressure is high it can result in severe health problems, such as heart diseases.

The quantity of blood pumped by your heart and when the arteries are narrow it increases resistance and when the arteries are narrow the high blood pressure can increase. This is how blood pressure is determined. People can have high blood pressure and not know for years and symptoms might not even show.

When blood pressure increases it affects the elastic arteries and the artery walls become less elastic resulting in the left ventricle having to work harder to be able to supply ample blood to the body. It also affects muscular arteries in which the internal elastic membrane hardens and the tunica intima is damaged by blood pressure and friction. Then bad cholesterol creates plaque in the artery wall and inside of the
artery develops into a narrow artery whereas there is an increase in blood pressure.

Not only adults can have high blood pressure but children could get it too. High blood pressure in children can cause the children to have health effects which could be long-term such heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. High blood pressure in children can be caused by obesity or family history or sleep disorders. Obesity is the main risk of high blood pressure in children, this could lead to heart disease and
diabetes.

CAUSES:
Primary (essential) hypertension: for some adults, high blood pressure cannot be recognisable and essential hypertension tends to grow slowly over years.

Second hypertension: this is when someone gets high blood pressure from other diseases and this leads to a sudden cause of higher blood pressure than the primary hypertension does. These medications and conditions can cause secondary hypertension:
Obstructive sleep apnea, Kidney problems, Thyroid problems, Adrenal gland tumors and If a baby is born with (congenital) in the blood vessels.

EFFECTS:
Stroke: high blood pressure can lead to blood clots forming in the arteries to your brain which block the flow of blood can cause a stroke. Heart attack: high blood pressure can weaken the muscle in the heart and will not be able to work well and your heart starts to fail and heart attacks could lead to damaging of the heart. Damage to kidneys: high blood pressure can cause the tiny blood vessels in the kidney to become scarred and not able to successfully filter waste and fluid from your blood. This is called kidney scarring or glomerulosclerosis. High blood pressure can also lead to kidney failure whereas the kidneys aren’t able to filter waste from the body. Dialysis will be required or a kidney transplant. Aneurysm: there is a lot of pressure when blood is moving into and out of a weak artery which can result in a part of its wall to form a bump. Aneurysm can cause internal bleeding. Thickened or torn blood vessels in the eyes: high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the eyes which cause retina damage which can lead to blurred vision or bleeding in the eye and if you have diabetes you are at a high risk.

SYMPTOMS:
People do not experience the symptoms of high blood pressure but when the blood pressure reading reaches 180/120 mm hg it is a hypertensive crisis and symptoms will show: Headache, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, blurred vision, heart palpitations. Children symptoms: fatigue, headache, nosebleed, blurred vision, not having the ability to control facial muscles on the face normally one side, this is called bells palsy.

DIAGNOSIS
Urine and blood test, exercise stress test, electrocardiogram (ECG).

MEDICATIONS:
Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, Calcium channel blockers, Thiazide diuretics, Beta blockers and Renin inhibitors.

How to manage high blood pressure:
Exercise regularly, lose weight, eat more potassium-rich food such as, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, potatoes, melons, bananas, oranges, milk, yoghurt, beans, tuna and salmon can help lower blood pressure. Reducing stress can help lower blood pressure. Eating cocoa or dark chocolate can help loosen up the blood vessels which leads to the blood pressure lowering.

References
Anon., 2018. High blood pressure (hypertension). [Online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-bloodpressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373410 [Accessed 11 November 2019].

Anon., n.d. Causes of High Blood Pressure. [Online] Available at: https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/bloodpressure-causes#1

Anon., n.d. High Blood Pressure in Children. [Online] Available at: https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-bloodpressure/
guide/hypertension-in-children#2 [Accessed 11 November 2019].

Elman, A., 2019. What to know about high blood pressure. [Online] Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/159283.php#symptoms  [Accessed 11 November 2019]

Janelle Owusu – MYP 5