If you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension, or chronic high blood pressure, you’re not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports nearly half of all American adults (about 116 million) have this serious health condition.
Hypertension spells trouble for your heart and overall health, increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke. But since it doesn’t come with noticeable warning signs, doctors have dubbed it a “silent killer.”
At Beth and Howard Braver, MD, in Aventura and Hollywood, Florida, our board-certified physicians understand just how dangerous hypertension can be. As part of our comprehensive line of internal medicine services, we specialize in diagnosing and treating hypertension.
We’re also committed to educating our patients about their health and potential risks. Our team put together this guide to help you better understand the dangers of hypertension and what you can do to manage it.
All about hypertension
Your blood pressure is a measurement of the pressure your blood places on the walls of your arteries. Your arteries take blood from your heart to other areas of your body, keeping them oxygenated and functioning well.
Doctors interpret your blood pressure by looking at two measurements: your systolic number, which is recorded on top and measures this pressure during your heartbeats, and your diastolic number, which is recorded on the bottom and measures the pressure between heartbeats.
When your systolic number is consistently 130 or above and your diastolic number is 80 or higher, you’re diagnosed with hypertension, or high blood pressure. Most people develop hypertension over time rather than all at once.
Many things can contribute to the development of hypertension. Some of the most common factors linked to high blood pressure include:
- Unhealthy lifestyle and behaviors (e.g., smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise)
- Being overweight or obese
- Genetics/family history
- Underlying health conditions (e.g., kidney disease, obstructive sleep apnea)
- Poor stress management
- Taking certain medications
Occasionally, people develop hypertension for no identifiable reason. This is called primary hypertension. It’s also important to note that blood pressure can rise as you age.
Understanding the dangers of hypertension
Regardless of the reason(s) you develop hypertension, having this condition increases your risk of getting many other serious medical conditions or complications, including:
- Heart failure
- Heart attack
- Kidney disease
- Vision problems
But the most dangerous thing about hypertension is that without having regular readings, there’s no way to know if you have it. This silent killer causes damage to your heart and blood vessels for years until you suffer from a stroke or other serious condition.
You should have your blood pressure checked by a medical professional at least once each year during your annual exam. This helps your doctor keep an eye on your numbers and recommend preventive action right away to stop further damage if your blood pressure readings rise.
At Beth and Howard Braver, MD, we understand hypertension doesn’t usually develop in isolation from the rest of your body and your lifestyle. That’s why we use an integrated approach to managing hypertension.
We create a customized hypertension treatment plan based on your medical history, lifestyle, and other factors. This may include blood pressure medications, which help ease the stress hypertension places on your cardiovascular system.
But long-term management of hypertension typically includes other therapies, since making changes that affect your blood pressure can help control your numbers and improve your overall heart health. These may include:
- Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight
- Changing to a heart-healthy diet
- Minimizing high-sodium foods
- Increasing physical activity and exercising regularly
- Learning healthy coping mechanisms for stress
- Quitting smoking and/or tobacco use
- Avoiding or significantly reducing alcohol use
Schedule an appointment at our Aventura or Hollywood, Florida, office to learn more about the dangers of hypertension or to set up a blood pressure reading.