High blood pressure is also known as a ‘silent killer’ for it doesn’t present with any sign or symptom at an early stage. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that approximately 75 million adults in the United States have high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, which are the two leading causes of death worldwide. For this reason, the treatment for hypertension is usually geared towards maintaining good blood pressure levels through medications and lifestyle modifications. Regular blood pressure monitoring is very important most especially in overweight individuals, hypertensive people, and older adults.
Dangers of a high blood pressure
When your blood pressure is off the charts, the coronary (heart) arteries that supply blood to your heart can become damaged and blocked. This will greatly reduce blood flow and oxygen supply to your heart. Poor oxygenation can lead to tissue death and a heart attack, otherwise known as myocardial infarction.
The signs and symptoms of a heart attack include a crushing chest pain, shortness of breath, body weakness, and lightheadedness. To lower your risk of experiencing a heart attack, always keep your blood pressure in check and make necessary lifestyle changes.
Some people might interchange heart attack and stroke with each other. To help you differentiate better, just remember that a stroke affects the brain. The condition is also known as a brain attack and it is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States.
High blood pressure can cause the arteries in your brain to clog and weaken, also known as an aneurysm. A complete blockage of your arteries and a ruptured cerebral aneurysm can both lead to an insufficient delivery of oxygenated blood to the brain tissues. Without adequate oxygen supply, your brain tissues and nerve cells can die out.
Signs and symptoms of stroke include a sudden numbness or weakness of the arm, leg, and face felt on one side of the body, confusion, disorientation, speech difficulty, lack of coordination, and loss of consciousness.
While a heart attack and a stroke are the most common medical conditions associated with a high blood pressure, kidney failure is also a common complication. In fact, high blood pressure is considered the second leading cause of kidney failure.
High blood pressure can contribute to a clogging of the arteries that deliver oxygenated blood to your kidneys, thus depriving them of oxygen. Poor oxygenation can damage your nephrons, the functional unit of your kidneys that are responsible for filtration. This will render your kidneys ineffective in filtering waste in your blood, making toxins accumulate in your body. Prolonged kidney damage can lead to kidney failure.
Hypertension can also rob you of your vision. The increased blood pressure can damage the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) surrounding your eyes, depriving them of oxygen. Poor oxygenation can lead to blurred and even a complete loss of vision.
Due to damaged and narrowed blood vessels resulting from high blood pressure, lesser blood will flow to your genitals. For this reason, male patients might find it difficult to initiate or maintain an erection. Females can likewise experience vaginal dryness, making it harder to achieve an orgasm. High blood pressure can also affect your chances of conception. In fact, pregnant women who are chronically hypertensive are at risk of experiencing fetal death and premature delivery.
Most health clinics offer a free blood pressure reading to patients, and portable and automated blood pressure monitoring devices are also available so that you can monitor your blood pressure at home. Talk to your doctor today about high blood pressure prevention and take action.