May is Hypertension Education Month, so in honor of that, let’s all get our blood pressures taken! This is important because high blood pressure (hypertension) affects an estimated 67 million Americans — that’s 1 in 3 people! And many don’t even know they have it.
Hypertension is called the “silent killer” for a reason. It often has no warning signs or symptoms. Knowledge is the best way to fight back!
What does it mean that my blood pressure is high?
Hypertension is defined as a blood pressure above 140/90. For anyone with diabetes or kidney disease, hypertension is 130/80 or above. Hypertension is a problem because it means the pressure inside your arteries is abnormally high, and your heart has to work much harder. That can cause damage.
Think about the pipes in your house. If the pressure of the water inside is too high, your pipes and faucets can be damaged. If this continues over a longer period of time, more and more damage occurs until one starts to leak, or may even burst.
There are many complications of uncontrolled hypertension, including:
- Enlarged heart
- Heart failure
- Kidney failure
- Vision problems, including blindness
Why do I have high blood pressure?
For many people, the cause of hypertension is unknown. Factors that are known to affect blood pressure include:
- Diet – too much salt or too little potassium
- Too little physical activity
- Being overweight or obese
- Other medical problems
- Certain medications
What can I do about it?
The good news is that hypertension is preventable in most cases, and highly treatable! We’ll learn more about that next week.
What do you already do to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level?