Normal and Therapeutic Nutrition 3(2+1)
Lesson 28:Hypertension – causes, symptoms and dietary management


Hypertension or high blood pressure is a condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is chronically elevated. With every heart beat, the heart pumps blood through the arteries to the rest of the body. Blood pressure is the force of blood that is pushing up against the walls of the blood vessels. If the pressure is too high, the heart has to work harder to pump, and this could lead to organ damage and several illnesses such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, aneurysm or renal failure.

WHO defines hypertension is a condition in which systolic pressure exceeds 160 mm Hg and diastolic pressure exceeds 95 mm Hg. With diastolic pressures of 100 or more therapy should be initiated with drugs as well as diet.

The systolic blood pressure, corresponds to the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts and pumps blood forward into the arteries. The diastolic pressure represents the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes after the contraction. The diastolic pressure reflects the lowest pressure to which the arteries are exposed.

Hypertension is elevated blood pressure indicating the symptom of underlying progress of disease

Systolic pressure > 160mm Hg
Diastolic pressure> 95mm Hg

Hypertension impairs pumping action of heart leading to damage to heart, brain and kidneys.
Hypertension is increased cardiac output and increased total peripheral resistance

High Blood Pressure Overview

The heart pumps blood into the arteries with enough force to push blood to the far reaches of each organ from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet. Blood pressure can be defined as the pressure of blood on the walls of the arteries as it circulates through the body. Blood pressure is highest as its leaves the heart through the aorta and gradually decreases as it enters smaller and smaller blood vessels (arteries, arterioles, and capillaries). Blood returns in the veins leading to the heart, aided by gravity and muscle contraction (Figure).

Last modified: Tuesday, 25 October 2011, 5:37 AM