July 30, 2019
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a lot more common than you probably
realize. According to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 of every 3 adults in the United States has hypertension.
“Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure,” according to The Mayo Clinic. You are considered to be hypertensive when your blood pressure is higher than 130/80. When left untreated it can lead to other health issues, including heart disease, aneurysms and dementia.
We all develop hypertension – primary hypertension, specifically – as we get older, and there is no known cause. But some people will develop secondary hypertension due to an existing, underlying medical condition like thyroid or kidney disease or obstructive sleep apnea. It can also be a side effect of certain medications.
There are risk factors to be aware of when it comes to hypertension. It can be hereditary, and if you are a smoker, overweight or don’t exercise regularly, you are at greater risk.
Hypertension is known as a “silent killer.” Not everyone will experience symptoms with high blood pressure, but frequent headaches, nosebleeds and trouble breathing may occur when your blood pressure is elevated. Effectively controlling your hypertension is possible though with medications, a healthier diet and more exercise. You'll also want to watch your salt consumption and limit your alcohol intake.
Common medications to treat hypertension include Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) – both of which relax your blood vessels – or Beta blockers, which slow down your heartbeat, according to Stanford Health Care. Renin inhibitors are sometimes prescribed to slow down the production of renin, an enzyme involved in a chemical process that increases your blood pressure over time.
And be sure to have your blood pressure checked when you have your annual wellness visit and talk to your doctor about any concerning symptoms.