High blood pressure is linked with a range of serious complications, including heart attack, stroke, and death. And yet, you could be walking around with this condition and have no idea.
An estimated one in three adults in the United States have high blood pressure and don’t realize it – making greater understanding and routine tests particularly important.
At Indus Cardiology in West Covina, California, integrative cardiologist Dr. Yogesh Paliwal and his team diagnose and treat high blood pressure to protect your health and well-being. We also provide preventive cardiology care.
Here’s a deeper look at this common and serious condition, including why it’s known as the “silent killer.”
Blood pressure basics
Your blood pressure is a measurement that includes two numbers: your systolic blood pressure level and your diastolic blood pressure level.
Your systolic blood pressure reveals the amount of pressure your blood puts on your artery walls as your heart beats. Your diastolic blood pressure shows how much pressure your blood puts on your arteries between heartbeats.
A healthy blood pressure reading is less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic. If your numbers are slightly higher than that range, you’re at risk for or have high blood pressure – also known as hypertension. If your numbers reach 130 or higher systolic or 80 or higher diastolic, you’re officially hypertensive.
Having high blood pressure without knowing it
Until your numbers reach dangerous heights, your high blood pressure is unlikely to cause many, if any, noticeable symptoms. So if you don’t have your blood pressure tested routinely, you might not have any idea your levels are elevated.
And when symptoms do arise, it may be easy to chalk them up to other causes. Hypertension can cause headaches, for example, which many people without the condition experience due to tiredness or dehydration.
Sadly, many people never find out that they had high blood pressure. This “silent killer” leads to a fatal heart attack or stroke instead. More than 670,000 people die in the U.S. each year because of hypertension-related causes.
Risk factors for high blood pressure
While pretty much everyone should have their blood pressure checked at annual physicals and the like, you should be especially mindful of your levels if you have hypertension risk factors.
Factors that increase your risk for high blood pressure include:
- Being middle aged or older
- Being of African American descent
- Being overweight, obese, or pregnant
- Chronically lacking sleep
- Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
- Eating a low-potassium or high-sodium diet
- Having a family history of hypertension
- Having a chronic conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, or sleep apnea
- Leading an inactive lifestyle
- Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
- Unmanaged stress
If you have more than one of these risk factors, it’s especially crucial to tend to your health through regular checkups and improved lifestyle habits.
High blood pressure treatment
If your blood pressure test reveals hypertension, our expert team will create a customized treatment plan that includes both lifestyle changes and medication. In some cases, lifestyle modifications – such as eating a heart-healthy diet – suffice. In other cases, a prescription medication, such as diuretics or calcium channel blockers, are needed as well.
These effective measures can improve your health and may even extend your life. To learn more or get the care you need, call our office or send us a message through our website today.