​Primary Hypertension

Primary hypertension, also known as essential hypertension, is a form of hypertension which has no clearly identifiable cause. Around 95% cases of high blood pressure are primary hypertension. This type of hypertension is caused by family history of high blood pressure, poor diet, lack of exercise, and obesity. Though there is no cure for primary hypertension, it can be treated with healthy changes is your routine life. Persistent high blood can lead to multiple problems such as damaged arteries, blood vessels and heart muscle which in turn can create bigger health problems including:

There is a high prevalence of hypertension in Pakistan. Around 10% of the adult population suffers from high blood pressures with an almost equal ratio of male to female.

Primary hypertension develops no signs and symptoms. It is usually discovered during routine medical check-up.

Due to the lack of symptoms, you may be unaware of suffering from primary hypertension. Therefore you should schedule an appointment with the doctors of Internal Medicine Service Line​ at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, the only internationally accredited hospital in Pakistan, at least every two years starting at eighteen years of age to check your blood pressure. If you have already been diagnosed with this high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend more frequent check-ups.

Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​

Your doctor will measure your blood pressure using a blood pressure monitor. If the readings are above the normal blood pressure for consecutive appointments, you may be asked to monitor your blood pressure at home at regular intervals to check if the elevated blood pressure is a normal occurrence. Your doctor at the Internal Medicine Service Line at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, will assist you on how to operate the blood pressure apparatus at home. You may have to record the readings taken at home and discuss them with your doctor in the next appointment.

Your doctor will also conduct a physical exam along with the following tests, to get a better understanding of the effects of high blood pressure on your heart and kidneys:

  • Blood test to check your cholesterol levels

  • Echocardiogram test in which sound waves are used to obtain an image of your heart to be studied by the doctor

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) in which sensors placed on your chest measure the electrical activity of the heart

  • Blood test, urine test or ultrasound to check your kidney functions ​

The initial treatments involve changing your lifestyle, to reduce the blood pressure without using any medications. These changes may involve:

  • Adopting healthier eating habits such as consuming a low-sodium, low-fat diet

  • Exercising for at least half an hour every day

  • Losing weight if you are over-weight

  • Taking minimum stress

  • Quit smoking if you are a smoker

If these changes fail to cause improvement in your blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe antihypertensive medications such as:

  • Beta blockers which reduces the work load on the heart and opens up the blood vessels. This lowers the heart rate and your heart beats with less force. In older adults, beta blockers are usually prescribed with other medications for more effectiveness

  • Calcium channel blockers which helps relax the muscles of your blood vessels

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors which helps relax blood vessels by inhibiting the formation of a natural chemical that narrows blood vessels

  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers  which helps relax blood vessels by inhibiting the action of a natural chemical that narrows blood vessels

  • Renin inhibitors which lowers the production of renin. Renin is an enzyme, produced by the kidneys, that’s starts a chain of chemical steps which leads to increase in blood pressure  

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
 
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.
 
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments' costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.
Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.