Premium Care Internal Medicine
Internists located in Santa Barbara, CA
An estimated 24% of adults have high blood pressure, yet they don’t know it because symptoms only appear when coronary artery disease develops. Dr. Brittany Bryanat Premium Care Internal Medicine works closely with our patients, developing wellness plans to help prevent high blood pressure and providing expert hypertension treatment. Call our office in Santa Barbara, California, or schedule an appointment online if it’s time to have your blood pressure checked.
High Blood Pressure Q & A
What causes hypertension?
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, occurs when blood flow exerts too much pressure against the walls of your blood vessels. The volume of blood in your body and your cardiac output — the amount of blood the heart sends through your blood vessels per minute — determine your blood pressure.
When your body retains water, blood volume increases, and your blood pressure goes up. You can also develop hypertension from health conditions such as sleep apnea, thyroid conditions, and kidney problems. But the most common causes of high blood pressure are lifestyle factors:
- Diet high in sodium (salt)
- Diet low in potassium
- Being overweight
- Chronic stress
- Smoking cigarettes
Why is high blood pressure dangerous?
When hypertension goes untreated, the pressure damages blood vessel walls, which creates rough spots. Excess cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream gets stuck on those spots, slowly builds up, and hardens into plaque. This condition, called atherosclerosis, eventually blocks blood flow. Atherosclerosis is a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure.
There’s another reason why high blood pressure is so dangerous: It doesn’t cause any symptoms. If you don’t get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis, you won’t know you’re at risk until you have chest pain or other symptoms of coronary artery disease.
How is high blood pressure treated?
Hypertension treatment starts with a thorough examination to determine whether you have underlying health conditions that need medical attention. Beyond addressing existing health concerns, treatment for high blood pressure always begins with a lifestyle approach.
Many people can lower their blood pressure by cutting down on salt in their diet, stopping smoking, getting more active, and losing weight, if necessary. Your doctor at Premium Care Internal Medicine can help identify sources of ongoing stress and recommend ways to eliminate or manage the problem.
Your doctor may prescribe medications if your blood pressure is dangerously high or if lifestyle changes don’t help. Diverse medications are available for hypertension treatment, such as:
- Diuretics to eliminate sodium and water to reduce blood volume
- Beta blockers to open blood vessels so your heart can beat slower and with less force
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors to relax blood vessels by blocking chemical synthesis
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) to relax blood vessels by blocking chemical actions
- Calcium channel blockers to dilate blood vessels to lower blood pressure
- Renin inhibitors to slow production of the enzyme that increases blood pressure