Why High Blood Pressure is Called the Silent Killer
High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” for a reason. According to the American Heart Association, approximately 74.5 million people over the age of 20 suffer from high blood pressure. One in three adults will be diagnosed with high blood pressure during their lifetime. Many people have high blood pressure and are not aware of the condition.
The lack of symptoms in high blood pressure can be deadly. High blood pressure can lead to damage to the heart and coronary arteries, stroke, kidney disease, angina, fluid in the lungs, memory loss, erectile dysfunction, and vision loss. One of the most serious complications of high blood pressure is the increased risk of having a stroke. The American Heart Association states about five million people in the United States suffer a stroke every year. Approximately 70% of these cases can be linked to cases of high blood pressure.
You should have your blood pressure checked regularly. It is very possible to have high blood pressure without any symptoms. To better understand your blood pressure reading, there are some things you should know. The systolic reading is the upper number and the diastolic reading is the lower number. Blood pressure readings fall into Five categories:
Systolic - less than 120
Diastolic - less than 80
Systolic - 120-139
Diastolic - 80 - 89
Hypertension – Stage 1
Systolic - 140-159
Diastolic - 90-99
Hypertension – Stage 2
Systolic - 160 or higher
Diastolic - 100 or higher
Systolic – 180 or higher
Diastolic – 110 or higher
High blood pressure can remain without symptoms until it reaches the hypertensive crisis stage. Once in the crisis stage, symptoms may include severe headaches, nosebleeds, shortness of breath, and severe anxiety. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see your health care provider immediately.
There are several factors that can predispose one to high blood pressure including a history of high blood pressure in your family, being overweight, ethnic background, stress, alcohol use, too much sodium in the diet, smoking, and not getting enough exercise. Many of these factors are controllable. Changing your lifestyle now could reduce your risk for high blood pressure or help in controlling it.
The American Heart Association offers a helpful tool to help access your risk for high blood pressure, the High Blood Pressure Health Risk Calculator. Taking a few minutes to complete this assessment could help save your life. After completing this assessment, you will know what your risk is for developing heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. You are also given lifestyle changes you can implement to lower your blood pressure and the risks of developing diseases associated with hypertension. Take the time to act now and life a longer and healthier life!