Nurse Teaching on Signs and Symptoms of Hypertension

People with mild to moderate hypertension can be asymptomatic for the most part and not present with any findings. So, hypertension is considered a silent killer. This post, nurse teaching on signs and symptoms of hypertension lists what signs to watch for in individuals with extremely elevated blood pressures –

  • Vision problems
    1. Progressive damage to blood vessels in the retina, due to unresolved elevated blood pressure, can result in retinal bleeding, compromised blood supply to the retinal tissue, and retinal damage, thus affecting the visual function.
    2. This can lead to diminishing vision and in severe cases, even result in complete vision loss and blindness.
  • Chest pain
    1. Chronic unresolved elevated blood pressure involving the coronary arteries, supplying oxygenated blood to the heart muscle, can result in damage and inflammation of coronary arteries.
    2. Damaged coronary arteries could lead to poor supply of oxygenated blood to heart muscle and result in chest pain and discomfort.
    3. In severe cases, compromised blood supply to heart muscle could lead to development of myocardial infarction or heart attack.
  • Headache and confusion
    1. Elevated pressure in the blood vessels of the brain can result in episodes of throbbing headache, confusion, and fatigue.
    2. Persistent elevation of pressure in these blood vessels can result in weakening of the blood vessel and development of aneurysm, with potential to rupture and causing stroke.
  • Irregular heartbeat
    1. Compromised blood supply to heart muscle can result in palpitations and irregular heartbeat.
  • Dyspnea
    1. Compromised blood supply to heart muscle can result in progressive deterioration of heart muscle function.
    2. Ineffective contractions of the heart can result in diminishing blood supply to vital organs in the body, such as, lungs and brain.
    3. Reduced oxygenated blood supply to lungs can result in poor exchange of gases, dyspnea, and exacerbation of SOB.
    4. In severe cases, progressively compromised heart muscle function can even result in heart failure, with associated symptoms of fluid retention and edema.
  • Compromised renal function
    1. Progressive damage to blood vessels in the kidney, due to chronic elevated blood pressure, can result in weakening and narrowing of these blood vessels. Individuals can present with blood in the urine and compromised blood supply to the renal tissue, thus affecting the renal functions.
    2. Reduced blood supply to the kidneys can result in deterioration of renal function, diminished urine output, increased fluid and waste retention, and in severe cases, even renal failure.

Risk Factors and Causes for Primary Hypertension

  • Prehypertension
    1. Prehypertension is a condition when the blood pressure is above the normal levels, but not yet high enough to be classified as hypertensive.
    2. Poorly managed prehypertension without any active measures to contain, can progress to hypertension in due course of time.
  • Age
    1. Age above 65 and older.
  • High sodium diet
    1. Unhealthy dietary practices, such as, foods rich in sodium increase the risk for development of hypertension.
    2. Sodium has the tendency to retain water in the body, thus increasing the blood volume.
    3. Increased blood volume will exert more pressure on the blood vessels and result in hypertension.
  • Sedentary lifestyle
    1. Sedentary lifestyle increases the risk for heart diseases, obesity, elevated cholesterol, poor stress management, all of which can eventually result in development of hypertension.
  • Obesity
    1. Obesity with physical inactivity increases the risk for heart diseases, elevated cholesterol, and contribute towards development of hypertension.
  • Chronic smoking
    1. Chronic smoking can result in inflammation of the inner lining with narrowing and stiffening of blood vessels.
    2. Narrowed blood vessels offer more resistance for blood flow, thus increasing the pressure, contributing to hypertension.
  • African American race
    1. Individuals belonging to this race are genetically more prone to hypertension.
  • Alcoholism
    1. Alcohol has calories and intake can lead to increase in cholesterol deposition and unwanted weight gain.
    2. Deposition of cholesterol in the blood vessels can lead to damage of the blood vessels, plaque formation, hardening of the blood vessels, and narrowing of the blood vessel lumen.
    3. Hardening and narrowing of blood vessels offer more resistance for blood flow, thus increasing the pressure, contributing to hypertension.
  • Stress and anxiety
    1. Stress and anxiety can result in increased secretion of steroid hormones, as a compensatory measure.
    2. Steroid hormones help better management of stress and anxiety.
    3. In addition to the therapeutic use of stress management, steroid hormones also have a side-effect of increased sodium and fluid retention in the body, thus increasing the blood volume.
    4. Sodium has the tendency to further retain water in the body, thus adding more to blood volume.
    5. Increased blood volume will exert more pressure on the blood vessels and result in hypertension.

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