Our lives are evolved, we are no longer using animals to carry our luggage or landline phones or seeing black and white movies. Likewise, many advances are made in the medical field too. But still, some chronic diseases have long-term effects and can’t be cured. It includes Hypertension, Heart disease, and stroke and these are correlated. How are Hypertension, heart-related disease, and stroke related? let’s see about it in detail below.
1. What are Hypertension, Heart Disease, and Stroke?
Even though they are related to one another, they are different diseases. Let’s see the definition of each.
1.1 High Blood Pressure
Hypertension is also called high blood pressure. It occurs when blood flow in the artery walls (blood pressure) is much higher than usual. Normal blood pressure level is 120/80 mm Hg. When it rises more than this, it results in hypertension.
1.2 Heart Disease
Heart disease means any disease that causes damage to our heart. For example, heart failure, coronary heart disease, Myocardial Infarction, heart attack, etc. It may be due to various reasons like lifestyle changes.
Our brain needs oxygen to do all the day-to-day activities. If that oxygen supply didn’t go to the brain even for a few minutes, it results in a stroke. Its other name is “Brain attacks”.
2. How are Hypertension, Heart-Related Disease, and Stroke Related?
Here comes the most obvious question, how are these three conditions related? Let’s see how these three are interrelated.
2.1 Blood Flow
We all know blood flows in our bodies continuously 24*7 without rest. They pass through arteries leading to all the organs and cause pressure in the walls of the arteries which is called blood pressure. This pressure will increase when we do our daily activities and decreases when we are at rest.
A rapid increase in this blood pressure is called Hypertension. This may be due to lifestyle choices, age, family history, etc. If this increase continues for a long time, it can result in damage to the walls of the arteries which makes the work of the heart harder.
Due to this, LDL cholesterol, fat, and other substances accumulate in the walls of the arteries making them narrower for the passage of blood flow. This results in high blood pressure. A person’s risk of stroke and heart disease increased due to this. The normal range of blood pressure is measured by systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
2.2 Systolic Blood Pressure and Diastolic Blood Pressure
Systolic blood pressure is the pressure in the artery walls when the heart beats. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure in the artery walls between the heartbeats. The normal range is 120(systole)/80(diastole) Millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). If your range reaches higher than 130/80 mm Hg, then the condition is termed hypertension.
Hypertension is of three types, which are mentioned below:
- Elevated: When the systolic blood pressure rises around 129 mm Hg and the diastolic pressure decreases below 80 mm Hg, it is called Elevated blood pressure.
- Hypertension stage 1: If the systolic blood pressure rises to 130-139 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure increases to around 89 mmHg, then it is termed Hypertension stage 1.
- Hypertension stage 2: When the systolic pressure rises to 140 mm Hg or higher or diastolic pressure rises to 90 mm Hg or higher, it is called Hypertension stage 2.
In the USA, 47% of adults have high blood pressure and among them, only one out of four people have hypertension under control.
Blood is the common thing that is connecting all three conditions – hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. As it carries nutrients and oxygen to our heart, brain, and other organs.
2.3 How Hypertension Can Cause Heart Disease and Stroke?
When the force of your blood pushing against the walls of arteries is high, it results in hypertension and which later contributes to stroke and heart disease which are generally called cardiovascular disease which includes diseases in the heart and blood vessels.
Cardiovascular diseases are blood clots, structural problems, and diseased vessels. Other cardiovascular diseases include Coronary heart disease, heart valve disease, heart muscle disease, pericardial disease, heart attack, and congenital heart disease.
As in hypertension, the blood pressure in the arteries is too high which damages the arteries, and the oxygen and blood supply to the heart may reduce. The heart pumps blood which comes through the artery.
The blockage in the arteries results in hypertensive heart disease. To handle this high pressure, the heart muscle thickens making the heart less elastic. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the US.
The risk of developing heart disease increases due to high blood pressure including coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and heart failure (congestive heart failure).
- Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease and it happens when plaque ( Idl cholesterol, fat, etc) accumulates in the coronary arteries causing coronary artery disease.
- When the blood didn’t reach the heart due to the blockage of the artery, it can result in a heart attack.
- As hypertension results in the thickening of the heart, it becomes weaker. As time passes, it won’t work properly and causes heart failure.
Hypertension causes the blockage of arteries, which includes the arteries which carry blood to the brain. Thus, oxygen-rich blood flow to the brain gets cut off. And when the brain doesn’t get enough blood supply to function, this reduced blood flow results in stroke and brain tissue will damage or die.
There are two types of stroke: Ischemic stroke and Hemorrhagic stroke.
- Due to high blood pressure, arteries leading to the brain become narrow and blocked, which reduces blood flow to the brain cells. This is called Ischemic Stroke.
- As hypertension weakens the walls of the arteries, it can’t handle the pressure. Gradually, an artery in or near the brain may burst resulting in Hemorrhagic stroke.
People who experienced heart attack and stroke also have high cholesterol. In the US, the fifth leading cause of death is stroke. It is estimated that one-third of people who are suffered from hypertension and if they left it untreated, they are high chance that they may die from stroke.
2.4 Heart disease can Also Cause Stroke
Heart failure is a type of heart disease caused when the heart can’t able to pump enough blood which is required for the proper function of all the organs.
The brain is a primary organ that gives the necessary information for our body to function properly. If it didn’t get enough blood supply due to the failure of the heart to pump enough blood, it may result in a stroke. It is estimated that 2-3% of people who are suffering from heart disease also have a stroke.
There are certain symptoms of a stroke. But there are no obvious symptoms for hypertension and heart disease. If people with those conditions experienced some symptoms, they are mentioned below.
3.1 Symptoms of Hypertension
The below-mentioned symptoms are not directly caused by hypertension, you need to get your blood pressure reading to know if you have hypertension or not. High blood pressure symptoms include:
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Early morning headaches
- Vision changes
- Chest pain.
3.2 Symptoms of Heart Disease
People with heart disease may not have any symptoms until they have Coronary heart disease or heart attack or heart failure. The symptoms of these are mentioned below:
Coronary heart disease symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Heart attack symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Upper or neck pain
Heart failure symptoms include:
- Swelling in legs, ankles, feet, stomach, or in the veins of the neck
- Shortness of breath
3.3 Symptoms of Stroke
There are a few symptoms that are obvious when a stroke occurs are mentioned below. If someone experienced those symptoms, they need immediate medical attention.
- Sudden confusion
- Sudden severe headache
- Sudden dizziness
- Sudden trouble seeing
- Sudden numbness on any one side of the body
- Sudden weakness
If you had any above-mentioned symptoms of any three diseases, visit your nearby doctor without any delay!
4. Ways to Reduce the Risk of Hypertension, Heart Disease, and Stroke
Hypertension is caused by various risk factors. The risk factors include lack of exercise, obesity, smoking, and diabetes. Other risk factors like excess sodium intake, over intake of alcohol also increase blood pressure. These all are also cardiovascular risk factors.
If it is not treated or controlled it may result in heart disease and stroke. Certain medications and lifestyle changes will help you to reduce your blood pressure. Those are mentioned below.
4.1 Maintain a Healthy Diet
An unhealthy diet is the major risk factor that causes high blood pressure. Eating healthy food is necessary for your overall well-being and to lower high blood pressure. Taking balanced food containing fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, etc will help you in reducing high blood pressure.
4.2 Manage your Weight
Maintaining your body weight is necessary to lower blood pressure. As it’s hard for your heart to work if your body is out of shape. Hence, being in a healthy weight is mandatory. People with overweight are at increased risk of stroke and heart disease.
4.3 Exercise Regularly
Exercising regularly is necessary for maintaining your blood pressure in the normal range. It is recommended to do moderately intensive activities like running, brisk walking, playing sports, etc for at least 150 minutes every week.
4.4 Manage Stress Level
In our day-to-day lifestyles, It’s easy to get stressed. As stress is another risk factor that might cause high blood pressure, it’s necessary to manage our stress levels. To reduce stress try yoga, deep breathing, and medication.
4.5 Quit Smoking
Smoking will block the arteries and cause high blood pressure and other health problems. So it’s necessary to quit smoking to lower blood pressure.
4.6 Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption might result in hypertension. So, one should reduce alcohol consumption or stop fully if possible to avoid getting hypertension.
4.7 Limit Sodium Intake
Taking too much sodium in food can result in increased blood pressure. So, one must take 1,500 mg of salt each day. Limiting the intake of sodium can reduce the risk of hypertension.
4.8 Take Prescribed Medication
If you’re diagnosed with hypertension, the doctor will prescribe you certain medications to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Some of the blood pressure medications are:
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers
- ACE inhibitors
- Calcium channel blockers
These medications will relax blood vessels, helps the heart to beat with less force, and blocks the nerves which restrict the blood vessels.
As per the Centers for disease control and Prevention (CDC), out of ten people, seven experience a first heart attack, and eight in ten people experience a first stroke, both have high blood pressure before that.
Do these three conditions are curable? Well, these conditions can be treated with certain medications, treatment, and by changing lifestyles. But it’s not completely curable. We can keep them under control.
The above-mentioned factors will help in reducing high blood pressure. Thus, we can also reduce the risk of getting stroke and heart-related disease as hypertension is the major cause of them. Prevention is always better than cure. Follow a healthy lifestyle to live a disease-free life!
Karishma is the co-author of two anthologies and the author of a book of poetry. She is a graduate student in biotechnology. She loves reading books and writing her own stories. She also researches and writes articles about various things to walk you through it in her storytelling style.