Are You On The Side Of Hypertension?

Hypertension is a word used often by medical professionals and with good reason. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an astonishing 45% of Americans have some form of the condition. Hypertension is another term for high blood pressure, which is the force that blood applies to the walls of the arteries. The heart must pump blood through the arteries at a standard measure of 120/80. A doctor will diagnose a patient with a blood pressure of 140/90 or higher with hypertension.

center for family medicine Underlying Causes Of Hypertension Risk Factors For High Blood Pressure

Understanding blood pressure

Blood pressure has 2 measurements. The top figure, or systolic blood pressure, is the force that blood passes through the arteries. The bottom score, or diastolic pressure, is the measurement when the heart is at rest. Hypertension can lead to a host of conditions, including heart attacks, aneurysms, strokes, and even death. What’s even more disturbing is that many with hypertension are asymptomatic, giving the disease the name of the silent killer. Several factors increase the risk of hypertension. Persons susceptible to these risks should see a doctor and check blood pressure regularly.

Watch your weight

Obesity is one of the most significant risk factors for hypertension. Almost 69% of Americans are considered obese or overweight. With high-calorie, inexpensive food readily available, Americans are more prone to weight gain. Excess weight can cause clogged arteries and puts pressure on the heart. See a doctor or dietitian to devise a strategy to lower weight and blood pressure.

Smoking does more harm than good

Smoking may feel good in the present, but the long-term impact is grave. There are many unfavorable side effects of smoking, but high blood pressure is particularly dangerous. Smoking naturally raises the heart rate. Over time, cigarette smoke can weaken and narrow artery walls while creating a build-up of plaque. The heart now has to work harder, increasing the risk of high blood pressure.

All about those genes

Some groups are more susceptible to hypertension than others. For example, hypertension is more common in African Americans, with a prevalence as high as 40%. Hypertension also runs in families. Check the family history for any record of high blood pressure. While there is no direct genetic relation, persons may be more likely to adopt unhealthy family habits and lifestyles.

Hypertension as a side effect

Are over-the-counter medications relieving symptoms? That’s a good thing, but these drugs may be affecting blood pressure as well. Supplements and other pain medication can cause hypertension. Some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antidepressants, stimulants, and even supplements can raise blood pressure. There is also a link between hypertension and recreational drugs.

A stressful situation

Stress levels can cause an immediate rush of blood to the head. However, there can be some lingering, long-term effects. Stress creates more cortisol and adrenaline, the fight-or-flight hormone. Both naturally increases the heart rate. Scientists struggle to find the exact relationship between stress and hypertension. However, stressed persons are more likely to have a poor diet, smoke, or use drugs.

Take blood pressure seriously

If left unchecked, hypertension can lead to serious, deadly consequences. There are numerous risk factors involved. Hypertension must be taken seriously, even if there are little to no signs. To be safe, make sure to check blood pressure at least once every 2 years. For more information about heart health, speak with a healthcare provider.