When the heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries, building up pressure – systolic blood pressure – on the walls of the blood vessels. This pressure is important and necessary – otherwise the blood would not be transported through the body. That would be fatal, because then no oxygen or nutrients would be delivered to the organs or tissues. Even so, if this pressure is too high, it can cause serious damage. This often happens, even though the person concerned may still feel healthy.
When the pressure rises in the blood vessels
According to the definition of the International Society of Hypertension of the World Health Organization (WHO-ISH), blood pressure is too high if the systolic blood pressure is 140 millimeters (mercury column) or higher, and the diastolic pressure (the minimum level between two heart beats) is 90 or higher. The number of people with the condition rose from 600 million in 1980 to 1 billion in 2008. Researchers estimate that high blood pressure currently kills 9 million people every year.
High blood pressure mainly affects older people. Because their number is on the increase worldwide, experts expect the number of hypertonics, i.e. people with high blood pressure, to pass 1.5 billion by 2025. Lifestyle and dietary habits are contributing to this increase. Among other things, high-sugar and high-fat diets, lack of physical activity, obesity, smoking, and exposure to stress are regarded as risk factors of relevance to high blood pressure. In nine out of ten patients, no specific cause can be found for the high blood pressure. This is then known as essential hypertonia. In the remaining cases, hypertonia may be triggered, for example, by kidney diseases or disturbed hormonal functions.
Dilating the blood vessels
People with high blood pressure should certainly adjust their lifestyle. More exercise and a balanced diet are important contributions. It is often necessary, in addition, to adjust the blood pressure using medication. There are various different approaches. One important class of active ingredients is known as calcium channel blockers. They prevent calcium from entering the cells of the vessel musculature. In this way, the muscle cells relax, and the vessels can dilate. The blood has more space as a result, and the blood pressure falls. For over 30 years, Bayer has also been offering a successful active ingredient of this kind. It has been further developed over the years, so that today it only needs to be taken once a day. Another class in the fight against high blood pressure is the angiotensin-II receptor blockers. They also affect the condition of the blood-vessel walls. However, they do it by making an important messenger/neurotransmitter ineffective which normally passes on the "order" to the walls of the blood vessels to contract. By blocking the receptor for this messenger/neurotransmitter, the active ingredients prevent contraction, and the vessels remain dilated. On the European market, Bayer also offers such an angiotensin-II receptor blocker. This active ingredient also has a positive effect on disturbed glucose and fat metabolism and on diabetes-related kidney diseases.
Advice for patients
Each body reacts differently to medicines. Therefore it is impossible to tell which medicine works best for you. Please consult your physician.