Hypertensive heart disease is the most prevalent form of illness and death from hypertension or high blood pressure. This disease arises when the increased pressure of the blood flowing through the heart causes it to over-exert itself. This usually results in the thickening of the heart muscles. If left untreated, symptoms of congestive heart failure will gradually materialize and it may also lead to the development of ischaemic heart disease. High blood pressure is a frequent cause of heart disease and stroke.
A major symptom of hypertensive heart disease is congestive heart failure. Its symptoms may include:
- Extreme tiredness or fatigue, general weakness and feeling faint on occasion.
- An increase in the need to urinate at night time.
- Palpitations which will often feel like the heart is skipping a beat.
- Shortness of breath usually associated with physical activity or when lying flat
- A persistent cough which may be accompanied by frothy or bloody mucous.
- Oedema: swelling of the feet and ankles
- Having attacks of difficult breathing or shortness of breath during sleep which disrupts sleep.
- A racing or irregular pulse
Ischaemic heart disease may also manifest itself once hypertensive heart disease is present. The symptoms of the condition include:
Angina Pectoris or chest pain that may worsen when under emotional stress, when doing physical activity or when exposed to cold air. It may start in the chest and migrate to the neck, jaw, shoulder blades and left arm. There may be some shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating and nausea.
It may also cause hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which will present similar symptoms to other types of heart disease including shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness, fainting, sudden cardiac death and heart palpitations.
It is not uncommon to have any of these conditions and experience little or no symptoms.
Diagnosing Hypertensive Heart Disease
The first indication of a heart disease will be detected during a physical examination:
The blood pressure will be higher than it should.
The use of a stethoscope may detect fluid in the lungs distinguished by the irregular heart sounds.
The heart will potentially be enlarged
If the condition has progressed for a long enough period the associated symptoms of heart failure will be evident.
An ECG or electrocardiogram will deduce that there is an enlargement of the heart an irregular heartbeat or significantly reduced levels of oxygen to the heart muscle.
Other tests may be performed to fully confirm diagnosis which will include chest x-ray, echocardiogram and coronary angiogram.
Treatment generally involves lowering blood pressure and controlling the disease. The treatment will be dependent on the conditions that are observed.
- Beta blockers
- Direct vasodilators
- Angiotensin II receptor antagonists
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Calcium channel blockers
There may be an administered course of intravenous medications if hypertension is significantly serious.
It may be recommended that the individual monitors blood pressure to ensure that the levels have not elevated to a critical point. This may be done at home with the relevant instrument.
If high blood pressure is accompanied by diabetes or any other condition it is important to control all existing disorders, as they may decrease the overall function and ability of the body to recover.
- Increasing the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy products.
- Reducing the amount of salt in the diet will also be important.
- Consuming poultry, fish and whole grains is usually suggested.
- Partaking in regular exercise to improve the body’s overall performance.
- Drinking less alcohol.
- Eliminating smoking as a regular habit.
- Losing weight if significantly overweight or obese
The probability of complication will be dependent on the changes to the left ventricle because of enlargement. The greater the enlargement the more likely the possibility of developing complications. Prompt treatment of high blood pressure should decrease the impairment to the left ventricle.
It has been demonstrated in studies that anti-hypertensives or blood pressure reducing medications can help correct left ventricular hypertrophy. This means that individuals with heart failure derived from hypertensive heart disease may survive fairly longer.
However the risk of sudden death is always a possibility with this condition.
Complications from the disease include angina, heart attack, sudden death, heart failure and arrhythmia.
It is therefore important for a person to contact a doctor if any of these symptoms occur especially if a victim of high blood pressure.
It is important once afflicted by high blood pressure that a course of treatment is followed. Always monitor blood pressure levels to ensure that they are not dangerously high. Maintain a healthy weight, do moderate exercises and consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and poultry. It is important not to smoke if hypertensive, as this will only exacerbate the progression of the disease.