By circulating through your blood vessels, your blood creates pressure and this is what blood pressure actually is. It can be systolic, which is the maximum pressure when your heart pumps blood through your body, and diastolic, which is the minimum pressure, the one between two heart beats. Blood pressure is most commonly represented as systolic over diastolic pressure and it is considered normal when it’s 120 over 80. However, when these numbers go up, due to your arteries being too narrow for the amount of blood flowing through them, you might develop some more serious health issues. Here’s why high blood pressure is often referred to as a silent killer.
There are two types of high blood pressure or hypertension. The first one is called primary or essential and it tends to develop with age, over a span of many years. The second one is secondary hypertension, whose cause lies in some health condition you have, or the medications you’re taking. The conditions which might cause secondary hypertension include kidney problems, obstructive sleep apnea, as well as thyroid problems. When it comes to the medications that might lead to it, birth control pills, various kinds of pain relievers, decongestants and cold remedies are just some of them. Also, illegal drugs like amphetamines or even cocaine can cause secondary hypertension.
Beside the above-mentioned causes, there are certain risk factors for hypertension. For example, you’re more likely to get it if you’re older, of African heritage, you’re obese or simply overweight, or if other members of your family suffer from it. Smoking, drinking alcohol, physical inactivity and too much salt in your food can also lead to high blood pressure. This is why you should work on changing your lifestyle to make it healthier and prevent hypertension. It’s essential to check your blood pressure regularly, whether you have your GP do it, or you get a high-quality sphygmomanometer monitor and check it yourself at home. Having a good blood pressure monitor is a great idea for any family, even if it’s just to stay on the safe side, but especially if you fall under one of the risk groups mentioned.
One of the main problems with hypertension, and the reason people consider it a silent killer, is that you can suffer from it for a long time without even knowing something is wrong. And if you are unaware of it, you can leave it untreated for years. There are some people who might experience headaches, nosebleeds or tiredness. Others might have vision problems, light buzzing in their ears or the feeling something is weighing on them. However, not only is the number of people who experience these symptoms a small one, but these are the symptoms of many other conditions as well and it might take some time to figure out what the problem actually is. Also, by the time they occur, your blood pressure could already be abnormally high and life-endangering.
Hypertension is a health problem on its own, but one that can lead to various other, more serious health issues. If left untreated, as time passes, it can lead to blockage of arteries, which then can stop your blood from flowing into your heart and cause a heart attack or a heart failure. It can also lead to a stroke, kidney failure, chest pain, sexual dysfunction, loss of vision or even dementia. Most of these problems happen when high blood pressure damages arteries around your organs, preventing them from functioning properly. This is why it’s crucial to go to regular checkups with your doctor, which should always include checking your blood pressure.
Treating hypertension doesn’t only come down to some miracle drug. Usually, it requires a combination of medications and lifestyle changes. Although there is a great choice of drugs that your doctor can prescribe you, they might also suggest that you take better care of your overall health as well. They might ask you to adjust your diet, to be more physically active. It could also help if you stopped smoking or drinking. Another thing that you should avoid, and that can lead to hypertension, is stress. You might not be able to simply stop being stressed, but you can try to avoid stressful situations and do things that relax you. The important thing is to cooperate with your doctor and listen to their good advice.
The key to dealing with high blood pressure is discovering it early and then treating it however you can. This is why you should either visit your doctor frequently, or get a blood pressure monitor and keep track of it yourself. Only through being well-informed on time can you prevent or treat hypertension.
Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to health and alternative medicine. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.