Hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure, is a serious medical issue that affects 1 in 3 Americans. That’s roughly 75 million people!

Since May is high blood pressure awareness month, we felt it’d be appropriate to discuss the causes, complications, and treatment options for this condition. Read on to learn more!

What Is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure refers to the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. It is measured by the amount of blood being pumped by your heart and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. Your blood pressure will fluctuate naturally throughout the day. However, if resistance is high and remains high, you‘re likely dealing with hypertension.

What Are The Causes Of High Blood Pressure?

There are actually two types of high blood pressure: Primary and Secondary.

Most of the time, there is no discernable cause for Primary Hypertension in adults, and it tends to develop gradually as you age. Secondary Hypertension usually comes on suddenly and is caused by an underlying condition. These include:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Kidney problems
  • Thyroid problems
  • Birth defects
  • Medications and drugs, such as birth control and amphetamines.

Additionally, there are a number of risk factors that can increase your chances of developing high blood pressure.

  • Age
  • Race (those with African heritage tend to develop hypertension earlier than others)
  • Family history
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • Tobacco products
  • High salt diets
  • Alcohol
  • Stress

What Are The Consequences Of High Blood Pressure?

Those with high blood pressure are at an increased risk of certain diseases and medical problems, many of which can be life threatening. In fact, high blood pressure if often referred to as the “silent killer” because there are rarely warning signs or symptoms. That means a good chunk of those 75 million people with hypertension may not even know they have it.

Some of the most concerning conditions caused by high blood pressure include:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Damaged arteries
  • Aneurysm
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney damage
  • Nerve damage in the eye

How Is High Blood Pressure Treated?

By and large, the best thing you can do is regulate your blood pressure through diet and exercise before hypertension develops. That said, there are a number of treatment options once you’ve been diagnosed – many of which come down to lifestyle changes.

Regular exercise is a biggie. If you have hypertension, you need to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. This includes walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, hiking, or rowing.

Making healthy diet choices is important too. You need to avoid foods that are overly fatty or high in sodium.  You should also abstain from drugs, cigarettes, and heavy drinking, and look for healthy ways to manage stress.

There are medications that help treat hypertension as well. However, the course of treatment often varies from person to person.

Get Your Blood Pressure Checked At Southern Immediate Care

One of the best ways to keep your blood pressure under control is through regular checkups. If you haven’t had your free yearly wellness check, come into one of our offices in Anniston, Attalla, or Heflin. We’ll check your blood pressure and other vital signs to help you stay aware of your overall health!

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