Two-thirds of the adult population in the United States is dealing with some form of high blood pressure, whether it’s the slightly elevated stage of prehypertension or the elevated stage of full hypertension. Of those with high blood pressure, almost half of them have no control over the condition.
Since high blood pressure is a substantial risk factor for heart disease and stroke — two of the leading causes of death in the country — keeping hypertension in check is a crucial factor in regaining and preserving your long-term health. If you have high blood pressure or suspect you do, the heart specialists at Harlem Cardiology in New York City can give you a thorough evaluation and put you on the road to better health.
How high blood pressure affects your body
Your heart is a pump that pushes blood through your arteries to supply nutrients to the cells of your body. Because of the pumping action of your heart, the pressure within your blood vessels is constantly changing. This force presses against your artery walls. When your heart muscle contracts — thus putting the most pressure on your arteries — this is called systolic blood pressure. When your heart rests between beats — and thus puts the least amount of pressure on your arteries — this is called diastolic blood pressure.
These are the two numbers that comprise your blood pressure reading. When each number becomes chronically elevated, damage can occur to your arteries that, over time, can contribute to a wide range of negative health effects depending on where the damage occurs.
A silent killer
Though high blood pressure is a serious threat to your health, it has a characteristic that makes it even more dangerous: It rarely has symptoms. You won’t feel the extra strain on your arteries, nor will you feel tired if your blood pressure runs a little high. For most people, hypertension has no symptoms at all, even when at extremely high and dangerous levels.
In fact, hypertension usually remains without symptoms until it reaches life-threatening levels. High blood pressure contributes to or causes the deaths of about 400,000 Americans every year. If symptoms do occur, they usually take the form of:
- Sudden, severe headaches
- Chest pain
- Pounding sensations in your chest, ears, or neck
- Arrhythmia or racing heartbeat
- Problems with your vision
- Blood is present in your urine
Hypertension risk factors
The only way to know where your blood pressure stands is through reliable testing conducted by medical professionals. It can provide insights into both acute and chronic health issues.
In the absence of regular testing, you can only suspect where your blood pressure is, and that’s done by evaluating your risk factors. There are many potential factors, and they can work alone or together to create hypertension. Some of the most common factors are:
- Getting older
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Tobacco use
- Dietary issues
- Alcohol overuse
- High levels of stress
There are millions of people across the country who are unaware they have high blood pressure. Don’t be one of them. To see if you have high blood pressure or to get treatment if you do, book an appointment online or over the phone with Harlem Cardiology today.