Could You Have High Blood Pressure and Not Know It?

Hypertension doesn’t show symptoms but silently does damage to your body, putting you at great risk of complications like stroke and heart attack. Anyone can develop high blood pressure, but certain risk factors make it more likely. 

Fortunately, high blood pressure, or hypertension, is easily detected and managed. The team at South Plains Rural Health Services evaluates your blood pressure at every visit. Get yours checked because you could have this serious condition and not know it.

Here are some factors that raise your risk:

Age

The older you are, the more likely you are to have high blood pressure. Although high blood pressure is usually found in adults, it can occur in children because of an underlying condition or poor lifestyle habits. 

Sex

Men are more likely to develop high blood pressure before age 65. Women are vulnerable after age 65.

Family history

If you have a direct relative, like a mother or brother, with high blood pressure, you’re at greater risk. 

Race

People of African heritage are at greater risk of hypertension and complications associated with the condition. 

Weight

Heavier people, especially if you’re clinically overweight or obese, the greater your risk of high blood pressure. 

Sedentary lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle means your heart isn’t well-trained and must work harder to pump blood. This can cause your blood to push with greater force against your artery walls, or high blood pressure. 

Tobacco use

Smoking and chewing tobacco have a temporary negative effect on your blood pressure and over the long-term do damage to your artery walls. The result is narrowed arteries and increased risk of heart disease. 

Diet

If you consume too much sodium, your body retains fluid, which increases blood pressure. Potassium helps balance the sodium in your cells. If you don’t get enough of it, sodium builds up more. Potassium is found in leafy greens, low-fat dairy, and other whole foods.

Excessive alcohol use

Heavy drinking damages your heart. A healthy amount is just one drink per day for women and two per day for men. That’s 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor. 

Pregnancy

Women can develop high blood pressure during pregnancy. It’s critical to get prenatal care and management to protect your unborn baby. 

Drug use

Certain prescription medications and over-the-counter medications can contribute to high blood pressure. These include birth control pills, decongestants, and pain relievers. Illicit drugs like cocaine and amphetamines can also raise your blood pressure.

Underlying conditions

You’re at risk of secondary hypertension, meaning your blood pressure is high because of another chronic condition. Your blood pressure may be high because of obstructive sleep apnea, kidney disease, thyroid problems, adrenal gland tumors, and congenital blood vessel issues. 

If you develop high blood pressure relatively suddenly without other obvious risk factors, we’ll check for an underlying condition. Resolving or managing your chronic health challenges can often resolve or contain high blood pressure. 

If you’re at risk of high blood pressure, don’t just wait for a health crisis. Come to South Plains Rural Health for a blood pressure check and thorough exam. The caring, competent providers are also available to help you change habits (like diet and smoking) that raise your risk. If your blood pressure is elevated, we’re also here to help you manage it with lifestyle changes and medication.

Call the nearest location today, or use the online tool to set up an appointment. 

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