Hypertension affects about 116 million Americans, and many of them don’t know it. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, doesn’t usually show outward symptoms until it has reached a crisis condition.
We here at South Plains Rural Health Services want you to be aware of the dire consequences of uncontrolled high blood pressure. Though the condition might be common, it is also a serious health concern.
This Hypertension Awareness Month, make an appointment to get your blood pressure checked and take steps to lower it, if needed.
Hypertension occurs when the force of the blood pushing against the walls of your arteries is constantly too high. The condition means your heart has to work harder to pump blood, which taxes your entire system.
We measure blood pressure in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). A normal blood pressure reading is 120/80 mm Hg. The first number represents the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats, or systolic blood pressure. The second number represents the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats, or diastolic blood pressure.
You’re diagnosed with elevated blood pressure if your readings fall between 120-129 mm Hg, and the bottom number is below 80 mm Hg. In these cases, lifestyle changes like eating a nutritious diet, quitting smoking, and increasing physical activity can help lower your numbers.
Higher numbers come with a diagnosis of hypertension. They include:
- Stage 1: 130-139/80-89 mm Hg
- Stage 2: 140 or higher/90 mm Hg or higher
- Hypertensive emergency: 180/120 mm Hg
If you’re in a hypertensive emergency, you need immediate care.
Controlling hypertension is incredibly important. This is why just about every visit to our office includes measuring important health markers, including weight, oxygen saturation, and blood pressure.
High blood pressure doesn’t really show outward symptoms. You may be walking around with the condition and not even know it – that’s why it’s earned the name of “silent killer.”
Seven major complications that result from undetected or uncontrolled hypertension are:
1. Heart problems
High blood pressure can lead to thickening or hardening of the arteries, which can lead to stroke, heart attack, or heart failure. Because hypertension means your heart is working extra hard to pump blood, over time, it just can’t meet your body’s needs and eventually fails.
A blood vessel in your body may weaken and bulge because of increased blood pressure. This bulge is an aneurysm, which has the risk of rupturing with potentially fatal consequences.
3. Eye problems
Hypertension affects the blood vessels in the eyes, leading to thickening, narrowing, and tearing. You could even experience vision loss.
4. Kidney problems
High blood pressure causes the blood vessels in the kidneys to weaken or narrow. As a result, your kidneys can’t function as they should.
5. Metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome describes a group of disorders that includes increased waist size, decreased good (HDL) cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood sugar levels as well as high blood pressure. Metabolic syndrome puts you at a high risk of developing diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
6. Cognitive changes
When you have uncontrolled high blood pressure, you may have trouble remembering things, learning, and thinking clearly.
Hypertension can limit blood flow to the brain, causing a condition known as vascular dementia. A stroke that interrupts blood flow to the brain is another cause of this condition.
First and foremost, if you haven’t had your blood pressure checked in a while, now is the time. If you have high blood pressure, it’s important to know and get it under control.
Lifestyle measures, like improved diet, weight loss, stress management, smoking cessation, and exercise, go a long way in helping to get your blood pressure numbers under control.
When lifestyle interventions aren’t enough, you may qualify for blood pressure medications.
Remember that medications support lifestyle changes – they aren’t a replacement for them.
If you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension in the past or are due for a blood pressure check, contact South Plains Rural Health Services in Levelland, Lamesa, or Big Spring, Texas. Call today, or use our online booking tool to schedule your appointment.