If a recent trip to your doctor’s office revealed you have hypertension, you may have questions about what it means, how it happened, and how you can take charge of the situation.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the most common cardiovascular disease, with more than 80 million people diagnosed. You and your doctor know it’s a challenge to overcome together, but high blood pressure goes undetected in one in three people who have it. Very few symptoms mean less warning signs, so we have to take a closer look to see what’s at stake.
Here’s how it works. According to Jason Evans, MD, a family medicine doctor with ProMedica Physicians, your heart pumps blood through your arteries to every part of your body. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the artery walls. “High blood pressure is dangerous because it causes the heart to work harder and damages your arteries. This contributes to hardening of the arteries and leads to heart disease, kidney failure and stroke.”
Blood pressure is measured by a physician or nurse using a blood pressure cuff, which gives a reading of two numbers. The first number is the pressure in the arteries during a heartbeat; the second is the pressure between beats. Healthy blood pressure is less than 120/80. Anything more than this is sign for concern.
Several factors that contribute to hypertension are smoking, obesity, poor diet with too much salt, stress, and family history. There are usually no physical symptoms of hypertension, so it is important to have your blood pressure checked yearly. Contact your physician to discuss any concerns you have, and how to best keep your blood pressure in check.