High blood pressure: 5 things you should know
Your heart is one hard worker. Without fail, day in and day out, minute by minute, it tirelessly pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. When your blood pressure, the force of blood pushing against your blood vessel walls, is too high, your heart must work harder to pump fresh blood. This pressure can cause disastrous health effects. The more you know, the better you can protect yourself from high blood pressure (hypertension) and its harmful consequences.
Here are five facts about high blood pressure you should know:
1. You may already have high blood pressure and not know it – Although nearly 1 in 3 adults living in the U.S. have high blood pressure, many do not even know they have it. That’s because hypertension, also known as the “silent killer,” usually presents very few if any symptoms. As such, it’s imperative to see a health care professional regularly to measure and monitor your blood pressure.
2. It can be fatal – High blood pressure can cause your blood vessels to narrow and block the flow of blood to your heart and brain, leading to heart attack or stroke. The constant strain of hypertension your heart may also weaken the muscle and cause heart failure. Likewise, hypertension may damage the arteries and blood vessels leading to and found within the kidneys. This damage prevents the kidneys from effectively filtering waste from the blood, leading dangerous levels of fluid and waste to accumulate.
3. It can cause other harmful health effects – Left untreated, hypertension may cause damage to the tiny, delicate blood vessels in your eyes, resulting in vision loss. It may also contribute to sexual dysfunction, dementia, trouble sleeping and bone loss.
4. It is hereditary – If you have a family history of high blood pressure, you’re much more likely to get it yourself. However, regardless of your genetic tendencies, your risk of developing high blood pressure generally increases as you age. If you are male or African American, you may also have an increased risk of developing hypertension.
5. You are not powerless – While some things, like your age, family history or ethnicity, are out of your control, there are plenty of things you can do to lower your risk of hypertension. These include getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and managing stress. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. That means no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. One drink is about 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or a 1.5 ounces shot of liquor.
If lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough, your doctor may prescribe a medication to add to your regimen. Together, you and your doctor can fight the consequences of high blood pressure so you can stay healthy for years to come.
If you are concerned about your health, contact Reid Health today and let us help meet your health care needs.