How Do You Know If You Have High Blood Pressure?
The truth is, you don’t. The only way to really know if you have high blood pressure is by getting your blood pressure checked regularly. High blood pressure or hypertension (HTN) is known as the “silent killer” because it causes sudden heart attacks or strokes resulting in serious injury or possibly death with no warning.
The Effects of Hypertension
HTN causes more than just heart attacks and strokes. Prolonged HTN can cause serious illnesses such as:
- Kidney Disease — HTN may cause damage to the arteries surrounding the kidney. The damage can affect the kidney’s ability to filter blood efficiently.
- Heart failure — Heart failure occurs when the heart has to work harder to supply blood to the body, and HTN can cause extra work for the heart.
- Loss of Vision — HTN can strain or damage blood vessels in the eyes.
- Sexual Dysfunction — HTN can lead to erectile dysfunction in men or lower libido in women.
- Angina — Over time, HTN can lead to heart disease or microvascular disease (MVD). Angina, or chest pain, is a common symptom.
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD) — Atherosclerosis caused by high blood pressure can cause a narrowing of arteries in the legs, arms, stomach, and head, causing pain or fatigue.
How to Prevent a Visit from the “Silent Killer.”
One way to decrease your risk of heart disease from HTN is to know your numbers. Below is a chart from the American Heart Association that accurately details healthy vs. unhealthy blood pressure numbers.
The second way is to be aware of your risk.
There are many risk factors for HTN and being aware of them can give you the knowledge to make healthy changes.
- Diet — Diet plays a considerable role in elevated blood pressure levels. Diets high in salty, fatty, and processed food increase your blood pressure, causing HTN. A good diet would be one that is high in vegetables, fruits, and lean meats.
- Physical Activity — Regular physical activity improves blood circulation and decreases your risk for HTN.
- Alcohol and tobacco use — Excessive alcohol and tobacco use can cause HTN and increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart disease.
Other risk factors that you need to be aware of but are out of your control are:
- Family history
How can you overcome hypertension? One way is to talk with your doctor about any medications or specific lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk. Another way is to participate in clinical trials. Clinical trials are a great tool to get to know your health more, receive one-on-one quality attention from a medical professional, and access to the latest therapies that are not currently on the market. ENCORE Research Group is currently enrolling in studies for hypertension. If you or someone you know would like to participate, please call 904-730-0166 or visit encoredocs.com.