Pathophysiology of Hypertension

Understanding the pathophysiology of hypertension is essential especially if you suffer from it. Hypertension is a term that we all have heard of late, since incidents of it occurring in the populace are on the increase. To put it into as simple terms as possible, a person's blood pressure is basically the pressure exerted by the blood flowing inside the main arteries of the body.

The blood pressure measurement is most often expressed as a number like 113/66. The number depends on the pumping force of the heart needed to move the volume of blood in the arterial system and on the elasticity of the blood vessels.

In the example, the upper number (called the systolic pressure) is mostly the result of the contraction of the muscle of the heart and is the upper number recorded. In the pathophysiology of hypertension the lower number, called the diastolic pressure, is what is recorded during the relaxation of the ventricles between beats of the heart and is a reflection of the resistance of all of the small arteries in the body and the load that the heart must work against to push blood.

A blood pressure cuff (called a sphygmomanometer by health care professionals) measures the resultant pressure, and that set of numbers is expressed as millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

Measuring the blood pressure of a patientThis should not be confused with the pulse which is the pressure wave that is transmitted through the arteries with each heartbeat and is easily felt at certain pulse points around the body like the wrists, ankles and neck. An individual's blood pressure varies with age and among people, but a young adult who is healthy has an average blood pressure reading, when at rest, that averages around 120/80 (that is a pressure of 120 mmHg systolic and 80 mmHg diastolic).

An elevation in the blood pressure is known as hypertension (hyper for over or increased and tension meaning pressure). Experts have deduced that a rise in the diastolic pressure is frequently a more certain indicator that a person is suffering from hypertension than a rise in the systolic pressure is. The bottom number is more sensitive to changes in body position and an individual's emotional mood.

The pathophysiology of hypertension indicates that it has a number of causes, the most important ones being factors like:

  • kidney disease
  • familial or genetic predisposition
  • blockage
  • loss in elasticity of the arteries due to plaque buildup (a rough, sticky coating of cholesterol deposited into the walls of the arteries)

That leads to a narrowing and loss of elasticity in the veins and arteries, raising the pressure needed to circulate the blood. An abnormal hypertension frequently comes piggybacked with arterial disease, an increased chance of having a stroke, heart attack and heart failure.

If you are told that you suffer from hypertension, it is best that you seek the treatment of your healthcare professional immediately. There are several medications and treatments that can be employed in treating the different factors leading up to the condition. Knowing the particular details of your case such as lifestyle issues, family predisposition, etc., will help your doctor design a program that will custom fit your individual needs.


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