If you have high blood pressure, you have plenty of company. It’s estimated that nearly half of all adult Americans have some level of hypertension, and it’s a trend expected to rise along with the median age of the country’s population. Deaths from hypertension are also on the rise, though heart disease and strokes are becoming less lethal.
Hypertension, though, is a silent killer. Without regular blood pressure screening, it’s possible to have hypertension for years without knowing anything is wrong. It’s usually in advanced stages before it becomes symptomatic. Recognizing that you have high blood pressure usually requires knowledge of the risk factors as well as regular testing.
Even for those who have symptoms of hypertension, it can be difficult to make the connection. You could have headaches, nosebleeds, or run out of breath easily because of high blood pressure, but these symptoms happen for many other reasons, too. Typically, these symptoms won’t occur until your hypertension reaches very dangerous levels.
Blood pressure monitoring
Typically, you’ll have your blood pressure checked at every visit to your primary care provider, or if you receive care from an emergency or primary care facility. If you’re between 18 and 40, you should request blood pressure testing every two years, if you’re not already being checked.
When you’re over 40, or when you have risk factors for hypertension, have your blood pressure checked annually. Affordable home blood pressure testers are readily available.
Hypertension risk factors
Risk factors don’t guarantee you have hypertension, but with its notorious absence of symptoms, risk factors are the best way to evaluate your chances of having high blood pressure without testing. The following is a partial list of common hypertension risk factors.
Hypertension risk increases as you get older.
Alcohol abuse can damage your heart and cause high blood pressure
Chronic health conditions
Certain conditions such as diabetes, sleep apnea and kidney disease contribute to hypertension.
A family history of hypertension raises your risk.
Sodium and potassium levels
High sodium and low potassium increase your chances of high blood pressure as they work together to balance fluid retention.
High body mass
Extra weight requires more blood, which in turn puts greater pressure on blood vessels.
Movement assists the flow of blood through your body, so low levels of activity put more of the load on your heart, increasing blood pressure.
Stress itself can temporarily increase blood pressure, and many stress-coping mechanisms aggravate hypertension.
Tobacco consumption causes a time-of-use blood pressure increase, and nicotine accelerates the deterioration and narrowing of your arteries
Despite its shortage of symptoms, hypertension is usually easy to control once it’s diagnosed.
If you have one or more hypertension risk factors, or if your blood pressure readings have been elevated in past, it’s time to contact the team at Integrative Primary Care as your partner in hypertension management. They can diagnose your issue, suggest effective lifestyle changes, and prescribe medications to keep your hypertension under control.
Use the online booking tool or call the office directly to schedule your personal assessment. It’s never too early to manage your blood pressure.