Hypertension is known as the “silent killer” because most people who have hypertension, or high blood pressure, do not have any symptoms. Even though you may not feel it, it does not mean it is not there.
Your first stop to finding out if you have high blood pressure is to schedule a check-up with your primary care physician.
High blood pressure comes from an increase in resistance of the arteries. Due to this resistance, your heart has to work harder to get blood to your extremities and vital organs. Over time, this can have detrimental effects on your body and health. Therefore, it is important to control your hypertension for several reasons.
- Improve Your Heart Health
When you have high blood pressure, you are 3 times more likely to die from heart disease. Hypertension is caused by hardened arteries and hardened arteries cause hypertension. This is a vicious cycle that you have the power to break.
- Decrease Your Chance of a Stroke
77 percent of people who have their first stroke have high blood pressure. A stroke is when an area of your brain is not receiving enough blood, and therefore oxygen, to operate properly. This can be due to a blocked artery (ischemic stroke) or an artery that broke (hemorrhagic stroke). Hypertension causes damages to these arteries that make a stroke more likely to happen.
- Protect Your Kidneys
When a person’s blood pressure is high, it can stretch the fragile filtering system of the kidneys. Over time, this stretch can become permanent causing the kidneys to be less efficient in filtering your blood. Once this happens, it is known as chronic kidney disease with the end stages requiring costly dialysis or kidney transplants.
- Improve Your Quality of Life and Increase Your Life-span
In 2013, almost 1,000 deaths per day in America were caused by hypertension. By decreasing your blood pressure and keeping it controlled, you are 25 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.
- Reduce Out of Pocket Expenses
Spend a little money now and save a lot later. High blood pressure costs the nation nearly 50 billion dollars each year. By keeping your blood pressure under control now, you can reduce the amount of time you can spend in the hospital and reduce future costs.
Only about 52 percent of adults with hypertension have their blood pressure under control. You can start to manage your blood pressure today by making small changes in your everyday life.
- Change the way you eat. We don’t expect you to completely change your diet at once, but you can start to make healthier choices today. Start by choosing foods lower in salt and fat, and incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet.
- Be active. Ideally you want 30 minutes of exercise 5 days per week. You can start today by parking farther away or taking the stairs.
- Quit smoking. If you are a smoker, begin the steps to quitting. Smoking, even the smallest amount, puts a large burden on your heart. Your primary care physician can give you tools to help you quit.
- Monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis. If it is over 120/80 mm Hg it is time to talk to your primary care physician about what you can do to lower your blood pressure. In order to prevent issues like these in the future, it is important to take action today.
To find out if you have high blood pressure or how to manage it, consult your primary care physician first. If it’s necessary, your primary care physician will refer you to a cardiologist for additional care.
If you do not have one, you can find a Sentara Medical Group provider in your area.