Hypertension or high blood pressure is one of the “silent killers”. Take care to prevent and treat it.

Hypertension and high blood pressure are interchangeable terms. It is when the pressure of blood in the circulatory is at an unhealthy, high level. Many of us have it and live with it. Medication works and is often necessary to treat it. In an age of information and healthy lifestyles, it seems like high blood pressure should be a thing of the past. Let’s demystify what it is, what causes it, and how to address it.

Still, isolated systolic hypertension is very serious and can result in heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney failure and other serious illnesses.

What is hypertension?

Blood pressure, also referred to as BP, is a measurement of the blood flow through your arteries. Blood pressure is made up of two numbers, sort of like a fraction (one over the other). Systolic, the top number, measures the pressure in the arteries when your heart beats (muscle contracts). Diastolic, the bottom number measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest. High blood pressure is just that, higher pressure on your arteries than acceptable. With HBP, over time the tissue that makes up the walls of your arteries gets stretched beyond a healthy limit and damage occurs. Typically, as we age, our systolic blood pressure rises steadily. This is due to increasing stiffness of large arteries, long-term build-up of plaque, and increased incidence of cardiac and vascular disease.

What are the symptoms of hypertension?

Contrary to popular belief, HBP is somewhat symptomless. In fact, it is dubbed one of the “silent killers.” There are plenty of myths out there that point to headaches and nose bleeds as common symptoms, but the doctors say that the only way to know what your blood pressure is, is to have your blood pressure taken. If it is high, your doctor will want to follow up several times to insure the results are accurate.

What are the ramifications of hypertension?

The long term effects of HBP can be devastating if left unchecked and untreated. The list below should help convince you that getting checked is a must.

  • Heart and Coronary Artery damage
  • Stroke
  • Kidney Damage
  • Vision Loss
  • Memory Loss
  • Fluid in the Lungs
  • Angina
  • Peripheral Artery Disease

How can hypertension be prevented and treated?

Know that lifestyle choices and heredity are factors, so some of this may be under your control or out of your control. Living a healthy lifestyle is beneficial for more than just blood pressure and even small changes can make a big difference!

  • Eat whole foods, as in unprocessed (limit fast food)
  • Keep sodium to a minimum
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid tobacco smoke
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Manage stress
  • Comply with your medications

Living a healthy lifestyle is the best practice to ward off more than hypertension or high blood pressure. Just like any fine piece of machinery, as we age our working mechanisms age with us. It is vital to take care of our bodies, since we only get one!