Tests You Need To Undergo If You Have Hypertension
Hypertension is a global epidemic that is quickly becoming one of India’s most common lifestyle diseases. Unmanaged hypertension can lead to severe organ damage and is usually the driving cause for cardiac diseases like heart attacks.
The good news, however, is that hypertension usually takes years to cause serious damage (unless suddenly elevated to very high level) and early diagnosis and intervention can help prevent this damage. The key steps in this process revolve around the identification of the underlying cause of hypertension, look for other risk factors of heart disease and assess if hypertension has already caused damage to your body.
Here are some tests that your doctor is like to order:
Testing for Hypertension Causes
In nearly 95% of cases, hypertension is itself a disease. However, in the remaining 5% of cases, hypertension occurs due to some other underlying disease. in such cases, diagnosing the underlying disease becomes important because not only that disease needs to be treated, correcting it also controls blood pressure.
The tests that are commonly advised to look for the underlying cause of hypertension are-
- Urine test: To look for any kidney disease
- Blood tests: For checking imbalances in kidney function (blood urea and creatinine levels), electrolytes, thyroid function
- Ultrasound test: To look for any kidney disease
In some cases, when it appears that hypertension is due to some underlying disease, but that disease is not apparent on the above tests, some advanced tests may be required.
- Blood tests for measuring various hormone levels
- Urine tests for measuring various hormone levels
- Doppler test for kidney arteries
- CT scan of the abdomen to look for some gland abnormalities
Testing for other risk factors for heart disease
The risk of damage to blood vessels increases greatly in those individuals who also have other risk factors for heart disease. Hence, it is very important to perform an overall assessment of an individual’s heart disease risk.
The tests that are helpful for this purpose are:
1. Blood glucose and glycosylated haemoglobin for diabetes
2. Blood cholesterol level
Testing for Hypertension related Cardiac Damage
Hypertension often causes damage to blood vessels without producing any symptoms initially. Hence, it is important to regularly monitor for any ongoing damage to various organs in the body. Here are some of the tests your doctor would recommend to detect signs of any damage due to hypertension-
- Ophthalmoscopic tests: Used to identify signs of hypertensive damage to the eyes
- Urine examination: Includes urine protein level and urine protein-creatinine ratio; this is for detecting any damage to kidneys
- X-Ray Imaging: This is a basic test that can identify any abnormalities in the size of your heart
- Electrocardiogram (ECG OR EKG): This is a simpler test that monitors the electrical activity of the heart. It can help diagnose common hypertension related cardiac complications like hypertrophy, muscle damage, ischemic disease and more
- Cardiac Ultrasound: Also called an Echocardiogram, this is a comprehensive test that relies on sound waves to capture and transmit images of the beating heart to a video screen. The test can accurately identify hypertension-related damage to the heart in the form of increased muscle thickness, stiffening of the heart muscle and weakness of heart chambers
- Arterial stiffness assessment: This is a non-invasive test that monitors the condition of the blood vessels. Hypertension leads to stiffening of the blood vessels which ultimately causes all the damage to the organs. Arterial stiffness measurement can diagnose it at an early stage.
It is easy to see that hypertension is a complex lifestyle ailment that can lead to a host of side effects in different areas of our body. This is why it is important to opt for a hospital that follows a multi-dimensional approach when it comes to testing for hypertension and strives to avoid common biases and errors that lead to misdiagnosis.
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