Did you know that one in three adults has hypertension, and they may not even know it? Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is often referred to as a silent killer because many women and men are asymptomatic until the condition has advanced.
However, awareness and regular checkups can help individuals prevent and manage high blood pressure and vascular disease.
Continue reading to learn the causes, risk factors, and treatment options for hypertension.
Blood pressure is the force of blood against artery walls as the heart pumps blood throughout the body. It is calculated by measuring systolic pressure/diastolic pressure.
Systolic pressure is the heart’s rhythmic pumping action and diastolic pressure is the resting pressure between heart beats. Normal systolic pressure is 120 mm Hg and normal diastolic pressure is 80 mm Hg.
When pressure within arteries remains consistently elevated, it is labeled as high blood pressure or hypertension.
Primary or essential hypertension is high blood pressure without an identifiable cause, and it accounts for 90-95% of high blood pressure.
Risk factors for hypertension can include a family history of high blood pressure, age (over 35 for men and over 40 for women), gender (men are at greater risk), and smoking.
Secondary hypertension is high blood pressure with a known cause. In these cases, high blood pressure and vascular disease are often due to narrowing of the arteries to the kidneys – also known as renal stenosis.
If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you will need to work closely with your physician for proper management and treatment.
This may include regularly monitoring and recording your blood pressure and alerting your doctor if it remains elevated above 140/90. You should also take medication as directed.
However, if your blood pressure is not well-controlled by your treatment regimen, you may wish to inquire about additional testing for secondary hypertension.