It’s easy to ignore your health until something goes terribly wrong. Unfortunately, the very nature of high blood pressure makes this wait-and-see approach to health dangerous.
High blood pressure often causes few, if any, symptoms until your numbers become dangerously high. Because of this, it’s common for many people to have a life-threatening problem for years without knowing — which is why it’s known as the “silent killer.”
Jeffery Tun, MD and Anton Sabiev, MD, provide expert internal medicine and preventive care services for people in the Midtown East, New York, and Forest Hills communities of New York. Here, they offer insights into high blood pressure and why it’s essential to take a proactive role in your health and wellness.
When blood pressure becomes a problem
Blood pressure isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, it means your heart is pumping blood throughout your body. So, each time your heart pumps, blood pushes against your blood vessels as it moves through your system.
This process becomes a problem when this force is consistently too high. When this occurs, your heart and blood vessels have to work harder and less efficiently than normal. Without treatment, the high levels of pressure damage the delicate tissue lining the inside of your arteries, and small deposits of LDL cholesterol can accumulate within the tiny tears.
As LDL cholesterol forms plaque within your blood vessels, the arteries grow more narrow. This raises your blood pressure even higher, perpetuating a dangerous cycle that continues causing more harm to your heart, blood vessels, and the rest of your body.
Over time, your blood pressure can continue to rise to dangerous levels, putting you at risk of life-threatening complications like arrhythmia, heart attack, and stroke.
Recognizing the signs of high blood pressure
High blood pressure can silently cause numerous problems that jeopardize your health without obvious symptoms — even when dangerously high.
Instead of waiting for symptoms to arise, you have to schedule regular blood pressure readings with your doctor. This is the only way to determine a problem. Generally speaking, these appointments should occur at least every two years when you turn 18 and once a year once you turn 40 or at risk of high blood pressure.
Common factors that can increase your risk of high blood pressure include:
- Having a family history of hypertension
- Being overweight, obese, or pregnant
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle
- Using tobacco products or exposure to secondhand smoke
- Eating a high sodium or low potassium diet
- Living with high stress levels
- Having certain chronic conditions, like sleep apnea, diabetes, and kidney disease
It’s also more common for African Americans to develop high blood pressure at a younger age and experience health complications at higher rates than Whites. Similarly, while high blood pressure becomes more common in adults, children can also have the condition, most often because of poor lifestyle habits like diet and lack of exercise.
Diagnosing and treating high blood pressure
Are you ready for some good news? Diagnosing high blood pressure involves a simple and painless test that takes less than five minutes. During your physical exam, we simply place an inflatable arm cuff around your arm and take your measurements.
Blood pressure measurements fall into different categories, including:
- Stage 1 hypertension
- Stage 2 hypertension
- Hypertensive crisis
Dr. Tun uses these categories to determine the best course of treatment. For example, some high blood pressure can improve through lifestyle changes like more exercise, limiting alcohol consumption, losing weight, and following a heart healthy diet. However, you could also need medication to help lower your numbers into a healthier range.
Could you have high blood pressure? Don’t wait to find out. Schedule an appointment with Jeffery Tun, MD and Anton Sabiev, MD by calling or requesting an appointment online today.