Hypertension: Symptoms

by Joseph Alpert, MD

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    00:01 The symptoms, I’ve mentioned before, we<br>call hypertension the silent killer because for years there are no symptoms and when symptoms<br>develop, they are due to damage to various organs.

    00:13 We talked about hypertrophy – or – thickening<br>of the left ventricle and eventual heart failure with shortness of breath, peripheral swelling,<br>fatigue. We talked about stroke and dementia, or cognitive impairment in which patients<br>become forgetful, confused. Their personalities change, they’re not the person they were<br>before this process began. Again, kidney damage.

    00:39 Nephrosclerosis means scarring of the glomerulus<br>so that the glomerulus doesn’t work so the kidney’s function is impaired and this can<br>lead to kidney failure and is a common cause of patients needing dialysis. There can be<br>damage to the retina, which is the photographic plate in the back of the eye, even with small<br>hemorrhages, and can lead to blindness. And finally you can have blood-vessel damage anywhere<br>in the body with atherosclerosis and all the complications that we’ve already been talking<br>about with atherosclerosis.

    01:14 Therapy usually starts with medicines. When<br>we’re dealing with a hypertensive type where surgery isn’t absolutely required – for<br>example coarctation – we would move early on to surgery. But most patients with hypertension<br>are treated with medications. And we have very effective medications these days for<br>controlling hypertension compared to when Franklin Delano Roosevelt died of uncontrolled<br>hypertension because there were no drugs to control his hypertension.

    01:41 The first-line drugs that are most-commonly<br>used are thiazide diuretics and ACE inhibitors and angiotensin blockers. We’re going to<br>go through all the classes in a moment. Calcium-channel blockers are also first-line, particularly<br>for patients with kidney disease. Beta blockers used to be first-line but have been moved<br>down now into second rank. And aldosterone antagonists – remember, aldosterone is released<br>from the adrenal gland secondary to stimulation from angiotensin. And there’s also drugs<br>that block the effect of aldosterone that help lower blood pressure.

    02:20 Let’s look at the drugs in a little more<br>detail.

    02:22 First, let’s look at the thiazide diuretics.<br>Excellent first-line therapy alone or often combined with angiotensin-converting enzyme<br>inhibitors, often called ACE inhibitors, or angiotensin-receptor blockers, often called<br>ARBs. These are generic. They’re inexpensive and they have been shown to reduce cardiovascular<br>events, such as stroke, in patients with hypertension.

    02:49 The aldosterone antagonists are also very<br>effective. They bind at receptors in the kidney, heart, blood vessels and the brain. They block<br>the effect of aldosterone on the kidney and they increase sodium and chloride water excretion<br>and potassium excretion.

    03:09 Beta blockers, as I’ve said, slow the heart<br>rate and they decrease cardiac output. They also decrease renin release to a small degree<br>from the kidney. And these are second-line agents for hypertension.

    03:21 Calcium-channel blockers work by dilating<br>vascular smooth muscle and therefore they decrease peripheral vascular resistance and<br>that decreases blood pressure.

    03:33 The angiotensin-receptor blockers and the<br>angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors also help block the release of the angiotensin<br>hormone system that causes vasoconstriction and increased peripheral vascular resistance.

    03:52 Finally just a word to tell you something<br>about how many anti-hypertensive agents are needed for patients who have high blood pressure.

    04:00 Here you see from a number of large, randomized,<br>double-blind controlled trials of hypertension control versus placebo. And you can see most<br>of the trials require at least two – and many of the trials require three drugs and<br>even some four drugs – to control blood pressure. So usually one drug is not enough.<br>And often, of course, the drugs have to be combined with lifestyle changes: weight loss,<br>control of diabetes and so forth. It’s not just the drugs that do the job. There also<br>has to be exercise and weight loss and watching the salt in the diet and so forth.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Hypertension: Symptoms by Joseph Alpert, MD is from the course Arterial Diseases.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Retina.
    2. Cornea.
    3. Iris.
    4. Lens.
    5. Sclera.
    1. Beta-blockers.
    2. Angiotensin receptor blockers
    3. Calcium channel blockers.
    4. Thiazide diuretics.
    5. ACE-inhibitors.

    Author of lecture Hypertension: Symptoms

     Joseph Alpert, MD

    Joseph Alpert, MD

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