One in every three adults in the United States has high blood pressure, and barely more than half of them manage to keep it in check. Elevated blood pressure numbers put you at a higher risk for a long list of medical complications, so it’s very important to be aware of your blood pressure readings.
Blood pressure is given as a reading of two numbers, such as 115/75. The higher number, known as systolic, is the pressure when the heart beats. The lower number is the diastolic, which is the pressure between the heartbeats while the heart is refilling with blood. Normal blood pressure readings are lower than 120/80.
Symptoms of high blood pressure
Unfortunately, high blood pressure often causes no symptoms at all, which is why it is commonly called the “silent killer.” Therefore, it is extremely important to have blood pressure testing as part your routine physical examination, as high blood pressure can unknowingly cause damage to your health. Some with high blood pressure may experience the following symptoms:
- Severe headaches
- Vision problems
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Blood in the urine
- Pounding in the chest, neck, or ears
These factors may increase one's risk for high blood pressure:
- Lack of physical activity
- Too much salt consumption
- Too much alcohol consumption (more than 1 to 2 drinks per day)
- Older age
Left uncontrolled or undetected, high blood pressure can lead to:
- Heart attack — High blood pressure damages arteries that can become blocked and prevent blood from flowing to tissues in the heart muscle.
- Stroke — High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for stroke.
It can cause blood vessels in the brain to burst or clog more easily.
- Heart failure — The increased workload from high blood pressure can cause the heart to enlarge and fail to supply blood to the body.
- Kidney disease — High blood pressure can damage the arteries around the kidneys and interfere with their ability to effectively filter blood.
- Vision loss — High blood pressure can strain or damage blood vessels in the eyes.
Monitor Your Blood Pressure with Regular Check-Ups
Getting your blood pressure checked is quick, easy, and definitely worth it. If you’d like to get your blood pressure checked, drop by your local Family Care Partners — no appointment needed.