I recently had my annual exam with my doctor and my blood pressure was a little high. If I can’t feel high blood pressure, is it something that I need to be concerned with?
High blood pressure is a very important health problem. It is one of the most important modifiable risk factors for heart disease.
The likelihood of having a heart attack increases as blood pressure increases. Most people who have high blood pressure have no particular symptoms from it. This is true when blood pressure is a little high, but it is also true even when blood pressure has reached a level that could become dangerous. In fact, about one-third of those with high blood pressure are not even aware of it.
The medical name for high blood pressure is hypertension. Someone can have hypertension for a long time, even years, without any noticeable symptoms. However, it has been shown that damage to your blood vessels and even possibly to your heart is still occurring.
Overt time, hypertension increases your risk of serious diseases including heart attack and stroke. It is important for your long-term health to discover hypertension early and to keep it under control.
Many adults with hypertension do not have an identifiable cause of their high blood pressure. Sometimes hypertension is caused by an underlying health problem such as sleep apnea or certain endocrine conditions, including diabetes. There are also medications that can lead to hypertension including decongestants, over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, and illegal drugs such as methamphetamines and cocaine. Some prescription medications can put you at risk.
Some of the other risk factors for hypertension include age and ethnic background. High blood pressure runs in families. There are some risk factors that we can change. These include eating a high-salt diet, being overweight and not being physically active. Smoking and chewing tobacco increase your risk of high blood pressure, as does drinking too much alcohol. Having stress in your life can also lead to hypertension.
The longer hypertension goes uncontrolled, the more damage it can cause to your blood vessels and to the organs in your body. I mentioned heart attack and stroke already, but hypertension can also contribute to a number of other conditions. These include problems with the blood vessels in your eyes, which can lead to vision loss, and problems with the blood vessels in your kidneys. Uncontrolled hypertension can also contribute to problems with memory and your ability to learn and to think clearly.
Testing for high blood pressure is easy and is part of a routine health exam. For your long-term health and well-being, it is important to control your blood pressure. Because there are usually no other symptoms at first, it is important to have your blood pressure measured. If you have not had it measured, please see your physician soon. If you have high blood pressure, your physician may recommend medication, and will also recommend some lifestyle changes including physical activity and a lower sodium diet.
Controlling your blood pressure will go a long way toward keeping you healthy.
About the author.
Amy Kvidera, M.D., is a primary care physician with HFM Primary Care. To schedule an appointment with her, call (920) 320-2436.