Hypertension: The Silent Threat You Shouldn’t Ignore
Some health conditions have distinct, obvious symptoms that make them easy to spot. But conditions that don’t have clear symptoms can sometimes be even more dangerous. That’s why we want to take time today to discuss a silent killer: hypertension, or high blood pressure.
Your blood pressure needs to be more than an obligatory measurement at the doctor’s office. In fact, understanding the dangers of hypertension can be a life-saver. So let’s take a look at why hypertension is often overlooked and why it deserves your full attention.
Why Hypertension Is Called the Silent Killer
Ignorance is bliss – until it isn’t. Far too few people think about their blood pressure, and fewer still are regularly checking it. This lack of awareness can create a false sense of security, leading to the belief that everything is fine. But hypertension is a silent villain, accumulating risk over time and gradually damaging our health.
High blood pressure typically doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms. The first symptoms of the problem are often the major health events caused by high blood pressure. In other words, you may only recognize hypertension at the end of the process when serious damage has already occurred. There isn’t necessarily a set of early warning signs like you get with other conditions.
When your first symptom is a stroke, heart attack, heart failure, or kidney damage, the problem is already serious. The top priority should be avoiding those “symptoms” entirely.
The Importance of Regular Getting Blood Pressure Checked
Everyone should prioritize regular check-ups to monitor blood pressure, even when you’re feeling healthy. By catching hypertension early, we gain the power to take control of our health and prevent potential complications. It’s always better to prevent problems before they arise, rather than dealing with them after they’ve already taken hold.
This points to the importance of annual examinations, even for younger people. The exam serves as a screen that can potentially point people in the right direction before having to deal with years of accumulated trauma from high blood pressure.
Another benefit of the exam is being able to run additional tests immediately. When your doctor or another trusted healthcare provider sees that you have high blood pressure, they can go through a laboratory workup. For example, they could test for the aftereffects of a potentially prolonged period of high blood pressure. Then you’re perfectly poised to address the problem and take the right next steps to mitigate the condition.
When someone is checking your blood pressure, there are graduated risk levels that you should be aware of. The pressure inside our blood vessels is measured in a range. The top number, called the systolic pressure, represents the pressure against the vessel at its peak stress. The bottom number, called the diastolic number, represents the least amount of pressure inside the vessel at rest.
A typical healthy blood pressure reading will be around 120 systolic and 80 diastolic (written as 120/80). As your blood pressure increases above those standard baselines, there are different grades. The American Heart Association uses the following blood pressure ranges to measure risk:
- Elevated: Systolic blood pressure between 120-129 and diastolic at 80 or below.
- Stage 1 Hypertension: Systolic blood pressure between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89.
- Stage 2 Hypertension: Systolic blood pressure above 140 or diastolic above 90.
- Hypertensive Crisis: Systolic blood pressure above 180 or diastolic above 120.
If you ever reach the hypertensive urgency stage, you need to seek medical help immediately. But even when you’re falling into some of the other stages of high blood pressure, it’s worth taking action now. Blood pressure is a problem that builds up over time, so the longer you wait to solve the problem, the worse it will get.
Your doctor might prescribe medication for high blood pressure or recommend various types of lifestyle changes that can improve blood pressure. Thanks to scientific advances, there are many kinds of medication that help with blood pressure in different ways. Some medications reduce the volume of blood, some reduce the conversion of hormones, some block the release of hormones, and still others slow or relax the pump. The right answer will depend on the person and their specific situation.
The Severe Consequences of High Blood Pressure
When people do think about high blood pressure, they most likely immediately make the connection to heart attack and stroke. Those are, indeed, severe health consequences that can come from high blood pressure. But hypertension can impact your health in so many ways!
Let’s take a moment to discuss the impact of hypertension on our kidneys. The blood vessels in the kidneys play a valuable role in your circulatory system. Prolonged periods of untreated high blood pressure can wreak havoc on these vital organs. The excess strain placed on our blood vessels impairs their ability to effectively filter waste and fluid.
This can ultimately lead to renal failure, a condition in which the kidneys lose their ability to function properly. In fact, the most common reason for kidney failure is uncontrolled high blood pressure. The end result of these problems is that nearly a million people in America are on dialysis today.
It’s clear that we can protect our heart health by managing blood pressure levels. But people might not realize that this is also a way to safeguard the long-term well-being of our kidneys.
As if the risk of renal failure wasn’t concerning enough, hypertension also amplifies the likelihood of developing diabetes. It doesn’t just add to the risk; high blood pressure multiplies the risk of diabetes. Hypertension and diabetes often go hand in hand, each exacerbating the other’s negative effects.
First, diabetes makes it harder to take sugar into your body’s cells. In turn, high blood pressure reduces the circulation of nutrients and oxygen. This makes it even harder for your cells to take that sugar and insulin in for energy. It’s a vicious cycle.
This dangerous synergy can significantly impact our overall health and quality of life. By proactively managing blood pressure, we can reduce the risk of both hypertension-related complications and also our chances of developing diabetes.
Hypertension may be a silent threat, but it should not be underestimated or overlooked. It’s crucial to understand the risks associated with high blood pressure and take proactive steps to protect our health. While symptoms may not be immediately apparent, regular check-ups are essential for early detection and prevention.
Surveillance over time is the best way to address the risk. By being informed and empowered, we can actively manage our blood pressure, mitigate the potential damage to our kidneys, and reduce the risk of diabetes.
Talk to the team at Curally today. We’ve helped many participants get their blood pressure problems under control. We can help you and others in your organization embrace a healthier, happier life!