Over 100 million Americans — almost one-third of the adult population — have high blood pressure. Though it’s a very common condition, there’s nothing ordinary about its risks to your health.
Medically called hypertension, high blood pressure can be its own condition or a side effect of another condition or medication. No matter how it occurs, its presence is a serious health warning. Your risk of dying from heart disease or stroke climbs dramatically, and you’re more susceptible to the development of other health risks.
If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it’s time to start managing the condition before it begins dominating your health. Contact a health management professional at WestMed Family Healthcare to start your own hypertension game plan.
Causes of hypertension
If you have high blood pressure, you have one of two types of the condition.
Primary hypertension develops over time and without a single identifying reason. It’s sometimes seen as a natural progression of aging.
Secondary hypertension is the result of some other condition, and it can appear quite suddenly. Typically, secondary hypertension produces blood pressure levels that are higher than primary hypertension. Some conditions that can cause secondary hypertension include:
- Adrenal gland tumors
- Blood vessel birth defects
- Cocaine, amphetamines, and other illicit drugs
- Kidney issues
- Medications, including over-the-counter cold remedies and decongestants, as well as some prescription drugs
- Sleep apnea
- Thyroid issues
Hypertension risk factors
You may be more likely to develop high blood pressure if you have certain conditions or lifestyle situations. These risk factors, alone or in combination, can create hypertension. When these factors can be identified, treating the condition may help reduce your blood pressure level.
Some of the risk factors include:
- Obesity — extra weight increases demands on your circulatory system
- Sedentary lifestyle — inactive people tend to have higher heart rates, which forces your heart to work harder
- Tobacco use — nicotine causes an immediate spike in blood pressure, and chemicals in tobacco can damage your arteries
- Alcohol abuse — excess alcohol intake affects your heart over time
- Stress — stressful work or living situations can increase blood pressure, and many coping mechanisms, such as smoking and drinking, aggravate the effects
Complications of hypertension
High blood pressure has few symptoms, and if you’re at the stage where you have them, it’s likely your body has already suffered damage. Both blood vessels and organs in your body are at risk.
Some of the potential complications of hypertension include:
- Heart failure
- Kidney failure
- Vision loss
- Dementia and cognition issues
Hypertension is treatable with changes to your lifestyle, including diet and exercise, eliminating tobacco use, and cutting down on alcohol consumption. When lifestyle changes aren’t enough, there are a variety of medications that help lower your blood pressure.
Finding the right hypertension management blend can take some time, so your physician at WestMed Family Healthcare is your partner in this crucial process. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the office today or book your visit online through this website.