Which are the symptoms?
Arterial hypertension is often symptom-free, especially if the increase in blood pressure occurs gradually: in this case the body gradually gets used to higher blood pressure values without giving any signal to the patient. That is why many people with arterial hypertension do not complain about the symptoms, even if their blood pressure is very high. However, in some cases the patient may have non-specific symptoms that are usually underestimated or ignored by the patient, such as: headache, dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), visual changes (bright spots in front of the eyes, blurred vision). Scarce and non-specific symptoms are the main reasons why patients often do not suspect arterial hypertension. For these reasons, blood pressure should be checked regularly, as early diagnosis is very important in preventing related damage. On the other hand, complications of arterial hypertension, which develop years later and include heart failure, cerebral stroke, myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease and chronic renal failure, which represent hypertensive vascular damage, have a different impact.
- ischemic heart disease
How is it diagnosed?
The easiest and most effective method of high blood pressure diagnosis is to take regular blood pressure measurements. During diagnosis, it is important to characterise the hypertension patient as best as possible in order to personalise therapy and thus achieve the best possible outcomes in terms of reducing complications. This can be done by a second-level examination including a dietary sodium sensitivity test and 24-hour blood pressure monitoring. Currently, it is also possible to test groups of genes linked to hypertension.
How is it treated?
The first step in high blood pressure treatment is changing the patient's lifestyle, which requires moderate and regular physical activity, weight control, a low-salt diet, abstaining from smoking cigarettes and limiting alcohol consumption. These simple lifestyle changes may be sufficient to control slightly raised blood pressure. Otherwise medication therapy must be initiated. Possible prescriptions have different mechanisms of action, and the choice of antihypertensive medication is based on factors such as the patient's medical history, age, other comorbidities and individual tolerance of specific drugs. Personalisation of antihypertensive therapy, which is based on genetic and phenotypic information from individual patients, is currently being studied.