High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a condition whereby blood pushes against the artery walls with extreme force. Recently, severe cases of diagnosed hypertension have been discovered to have their potential sources arising from illicit drugs like marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (also known as MDMA or Ecstasy). They affect the central nervous system – a critical system in the body, that’s responsible for regulating the function of the heart rhythm, respiration, and blood pressure.
Cocaine is most notable for creating short bursts of high blood pressure. This drug constricts and shrinks the blood vessels, leading to an increase in the heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, the walls become weak, and the heart muscles become damaged.
High blood pressure could return to normal when a drug addict stops using, withdrawal can also negatively affect the condition. Drug-induced hypertension, if left untreated, may lead to an aneurysm, heart attack, metabolic syndrome, cognitive difficulties, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, blood clots, metabolic syndrome, and vascular complications in the eyes.
The measurement of blood pressure is divided into four categories, these are:
- Normal blood pressure: Your blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg.
- Elevated blood pressure: Blood pressure worsens if steps are not taken to manage it. It ranges from 120 to 129 mm Hg at this stage and is referred to as systolic pressure. When it falls below 80 mm Hg, it is called a diastolic pressure.
- Stage 1 hypertension: The diastolic pressure ranges from 80 to 89 mm Hg, while systolic pressure ranges from 13 to 139 mm Hg.
- Stage 2 hypertension: This is a severely high blood pressure level, wherein systolic pressure ranges from 140 mm Hg and above, while diastolic pressure ranges from 90 mm Hg and above.
The Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure earned the nickname the “silent killer” because many people suffering from it don’t experience any symptoms until it’s too late. However, it quickly becomes a medical emergency, or a ‘hypertensive crisis’ once the blood pressure reaches 180/110 mmHg. At this stage, the following symptoms are likely to appear:
- Double or blurred vision
- Irregular beating of the heart or palpitations
In order to prevent high blood pressure from reaching the emergency stage, it’s advisable to go for hypertension tests on a regular basis; ask your GP for a schedule according to your lifestyle. As a drug addict, you are more prone to high blood pressure, as well as if you are elderly, if it’s in your family history, if you are overweight, physically inactive, drink alcohol, consume a high level of salt, and/or have diabetes. A combination of two or more of these is a strong cause for concern and checkups should be attended strictly according to schedule.
When to See a Professional for High Blood Pressure?
Since high blood pressure, unlike other symptoms of drug abuse, might not come with easily observed symptoms, it’s best to regularly test for it. This is the way to notice any changes in the way your heart works. It’s vital that you inform your cardiologist for any changes in breathing, physical abilities, stamina decreases, breathlessness or heart pains – they may be symptoms of high blood pressure.
You can only find out your blood pressure level by visiting the hospital, or with the help of a home blood pressure monitor. However, a home blood pressure monitor should never substitute a visit to the hospital.
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