Understanding the Major Symptoms and Causes of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure has been dubbed a silent killer by many healthcare professionals. Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure is often an invisible illness because of the lack of overt warning signs. The problem with an absence of easily observed symptoms is that many people do not detect the high blood pressure until it has caused serious health issues, including stroke or heart attack. Here is what you need to know about hypertension and how to be on the lookout for some of the most common warning signs.
Defining High Blood Pressure
Every beat of the heart pushes blood through the arteries to other areas of the body. Blood pressure readings that are too high can put unnecessary stress on the heart and other organs. Physicians measure a person's blood pressure using two different readings. The systolic blood pressure is the top number in the overall reading. This figure represents the highest measured blood pressure while the heart is busy pushing blood out to other areas.
The diastolic blood pressure is the bottom number in the reading. This number represents the lowest amount of blood pressure in the arteries when the heart is in a relaxed state.
According to the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, normal blood pressure is any reading less than 120/80. Elevated blood pressure is defined as a reading with a systolic figure of 120 - 129 and a diastolic of less than 80. Stage 1 high blood pressure is defined as a systolic reading between 130 - 139 and a diastolic measurement between 80 - 89.
Stage 2 high blood pressure encompasses systolic readings of 140 or higher combined with a diastolic reading of 90 or higher. It is important to note that high blood pressure is not diagnosed as one single reading. Instead, it is a pattern of abnormal readings that will lead to this diagnosis.
Signs of High Blood Pressure
Health care professionals warn that it is difficult to detect high blood pressure through the presence of obvious symptoms. The majority of common blood pressure symptoms only present themselves as a result of long-term damage to other parts of the body. For example, high blood pressure can negatively impact your vision, kindness, and more.
One of the most common signs that high blood pressure has been wreaking havoc on the body is a decrease in vision. This typically happens because of damage to the retina, a condition known as hypertensive retinopathy. Other people suspect something is wrong with their health when they begin to lose feeling in their fingers or toes.
Kidney damage is another common impact of hypertension. Unfortunately, this may not be diagnosed until the damage is so bad that it necessitates the use of dialysis. One of the most serious impacts of high blood pressure is a mini-stroke. Not noticing your high blood pressure until you have suffered a stroke can lead to disastrous health consequences, making it important to regularly check your blood pressure and practice preventive treatment.
Causes of High Blood Pressure
There are a number of different causes that can trigger high blood pressure. There is a definitive genetic component to this health condition with hypertension often running in families. Older individuals and Black people are also more likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure.
In addition to the risk factors that you cannot control, there are a variety of lifestyle issues that can raise your risk of developing hypertension. Being overweight or obese is one of the leading causes of high blood pressure. Likewise, a sedentary lifestyle also raises the risk of hypertension.
Other lifestyle choices that you should avoid include an overuse of alcohol and smoking of any kind. Too much stress can also trigger chronic high blood pressure. Lastly, there are a number of medical conditions that are linked to a greater chance of developing high blood pressure. These include diabetes, sleep apnea, hyperthyroidism, and renal hypertension.
Understanding the major risks and symptoms of high blood pressure can go a long way in identifying this health condition and treating it before it negatively impacts your health in serious ways. Regular checkups with your healthcare provider will ensure that you stay on top of any developing hypertension issues.