If there are one or more people in your family diagnosed with hypertension at an age below 60, you have a family history of hypertension. These associations are your blood relatives, like parents and siblings. This can also extend to grandparents as well as maternal or paternal uncles and aunts. The higher the number of family members having high blood pressure, the stronger is your family history of hypertension.
One of the reasons hypertension tends to run in families is that genes pass on from one generation to another. A gene is a biological unit of heredity that contains specific characteristics and is transferred from parents to children. That means that if your parents have a genetic makeup that predisposes them to hypertension before 60 years of age, it is highly likely that those genes are transferred to you. Another predisposing factor of high blood pressure running in the family is that the same family members are likely to have similar habits. Environmental factors might be the risk factors for hypertension like smoking, high cholesterol intake, lack of exercise, etc.
Knowing about a family history of high blood pressure is essential because you will then be aware that you are two to four times more susceptible to developing hypertension than a person not having its family history. Although this does not mean you will create high blood pressure, it means your chances of acquiring it are higher. This would ring alarm bells for you that you are at a higher risk of hypertension and other related conditions such as heart disease and stroke. Risk factors that can cause hypertension are high cholesterol intake, a lot of salt, and being overweight or obese.
Being aware of this would allow safety precautions to be taken to avoid a lifestyle that can predispose hypertension. The measures you can take to keep high blood pressure at bay include
- Getting regular checkups, at least six months to one year apart ensures blood pressure is within range.
- Modifying dietary habits to a less fatty and more healthy intake
- Taking less salt
- Doing regular exercises
- Reducing or avoiding smoking altogether
- Losing weight if obese
If you are already a hypertensive patient, you should regularly take your physician’s medication prescribed. According to the advised appointment schedule, you should also see your doctor on time and comply with him to keep your blood pressure within an acceptable range.
Keeping blood pressure under control is very important because it is a condition referred to as a ‘silent killer.’ That is so because it generally doesn’t have any signs and symptoms, and the only time to know of having high blood pressure is when it is checked. Thus, it is imperative to keep a record of your blood pressure, especially if you have a strong family history of hypertension.
Nutrition and Hypertension
Environmental factors are an equally important cause of hypertension, the same as genetic factors are. The amount of cholesterol you take, smoking habit, obesity predispose to hypertension and even leads to its increased severity. Excessive alcohol intake can also acutely increase blood pressure. Although all of these factors add to the risk of hypertension, dietary habits have a crucial role in its tendency. Studies have shown that a specialized diet can help in alleviating mild hypertensive conditions.
Genetic factors are not liable to change because they come as they are, from parents to offsprings. However, environmental factors can be modified by will, and that’s where you can benefit from them. Maintaining a balanced diet and adopting a healthy lifestyle would prevent you from acquiring hypertension. Also, this will protect from worsening severity if you are already suffering from hypertension.
Thus, hypertension can be prevented and controlled through a strict diet plan. The recommended diet plan by doctors for alleviating hypertension is the DASH diet. DASH means Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The dietary recommendation in DASH is as follows.
- More fruits and vegetables should be taken.
- Low-fat dairy foods should be taken
- Foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol should be avoided
- More whole-grain foods should be taken
- Fish, nuts, and poultry are encouraged to be eaten
- Sodium intake should be limited as well as sweets and sugary drinks should be avoided
Research has shown that following the DASH diet plan lowers the blood pressure as early as two weeks after starting the plan. The idea of the plan is to eat more fruits and vegetables and limit sodium and fat intake. It encourages the intake of calcium, potassium, magnesium, fiber, and an adequate amount of protein. DASH requires several servings of different food groups per day. The number of servings would vary depending upon your caloric requirement in a day.
Tips for the DASH diet
- Eat a portion of vegetable at lunchtime and another at dinner
- Eat a serving of fruit with a meal or as a snack. You can take canned fruits but make sure it does not contain added sugars
- Use half of your previous butter or margarine serving
- Switch to low-fat or fat-free edibles
- Drink low-fat or skimmed milk
- Add dry beans to your diet
- Reduce the intake of junk food such as fried chips instead switch to nuts and raisins
- Carefully read the labels of edibles before buying
Hypertension is a life-long condition that needs continuous evaluation and treatment. Several medicinal drugs are available for the treatment of hypertension that works via different modes of action. Some people need only one medicament to treat their condition, while others might require a combination of two or more of them for controlling their blood pressure. However, hypertensive patients should not be discouraged about their condition and should work in compliance with their physicians to maintain optimum blood pressure levels.
Bonus video: Hypertension – Overview (causes, pathophysiology, investigations, treatment)
Does hypertension run in the family?
Hypertension tends to run in families. Individuals whose parents have hypertension have an elevated risk of developing the condition, significantly if both parents are affected. However, the inheritance pattern is unknown. Rare, genetic forms of hypertension follow the inheritance pattern of the individual condition.
Is hypertension hereditary or environmental?
What causes hereditary high blood pressure?
High blood pressure often runs in families. Genetic risk is involved, probably resulting from a combination of harmful mutations in risk genes and silencing of protective genes. There is nothing we can do to change our genetics, just as we can’t stop aging.
Who is most at risk for hypertension?
Who is most likely to develop high blood pressure?
- People with family members who have high blood pressure.
- Pregnant women.
- Women who take birth control pills.
- Those over the age of 35.
- Folks who are overweight or obese.
- Inactive people.
Can you be skinny and have high blood pressure?
Even thin people may have hidden risks for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other ailments typically associated with obesity. Some overweight people may be healthy even if they’re hefty.
Can drinking too much water cause high blood pressure?
It is unlikely that drinking water raises blood pressure. A healthy body regulates fluids and electrolytes quickly.
How do you feel if your blood pressure is high?
- Severe headaches.
- Fatigue or confusion.
- Vision problems.
- Chest pain.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Irregular heartbeat.
- Blood in the urine.
Can a person with high blood pressure live long?
If left untreated, a blood pressure of 180/120 or higher results in an 80% chance of death within one year, with an average survival rate of ten months. Prolonged, untreated high blood pressure can also lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, and kidney disease.
Can hypertension be cured?
Hypertension is a chronic disease. It can be controlled with medication, but it cannot be cured. Therefore, patients need to continue with the treatment and lifestyle modifications advised by their doctor and attend regular medical follow up, usually for life.