• Millions of Americans Have Hypertension and Don't Know It

    on May 20th, 2019

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a common condition. In fact, it’s estimated that 103 million American adults have hypertension. It occurs when the blood flowing through your veins puts increased pressure on the walls of your arteries. This long-term pressure damages your arteries over time and boosts your risk of heart attack, stroke, and more.

High blood pressure puts you at risk for developing serious health concerns, but it often has no signs or symptoms, so you might not know if you have it. Because hypertension is so common, getting regular health screenings is an important step to staying as healthy as possible.

The team at Rose City Urgent Care & Family Practice helps men and women understand hypertension and manage the condition. Here’s what you need to know.

How blood pressure affects your health

Blood pressure is a measurement of the force your blood puts on the walls of your arteries. A blood pressure reading is comprised of two numbers: The top number is the systolic pressure (when your heart is beating) and the bottom number is the diastolic pressure (between heartbeats).

A normal blood pressure is 120/80. You have hypertension if your blood pressure reading is 140/90 or higher. The threshold drops to 130/80 if you have other heart risk factors.

Your blood delivers nutrients and oxygen to your organs and muscles. High blood pressure causes damage to your arteries over time, making your heart work harder to pump blood throughout your body. When your heart works harder, your body is at risk for other health complications.

Uncontrolled hypertension can increase your risk for heart attack, stroke, or heart failure. Metabolic syndrome can develop in people with high blood pressure and can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and more. Damaged blood vessels in your eyes, kidneys, and brain can cause serious complications as well.

Understanding your risk for hypertension

Men and women of any age can develop hypertension, but your risk increases as you get older. Until age 64, men are more likely to have high blood pressure than women. After age 65, women are more likely to develop the condition.

Family history and race are major contributing risk factors for hypertension. If a parent or sibling has high blood pressure, you could be at increased risk because hypertension tends to run in families. African-Americans often develop hypertension earlier than other races, and complications can be more serious.

Your lifestyle — particularly your activity level and weight — has an effect on blood pressure. If you are overweight or obese, you’re at risk; the more weight you carry, the more blood your heart needs to pump to your muscles, tissue, and organs, and the more pressure is placed on your artery walls.

People with low levels of activity often have higher heart rates. A higher heart rate means your heart works harder to pump blood through your body and puts more pressure on your artery walls.

Your diet impacts your blood pressure as well. Eating too much salt raises sodium levels in your body, causing it to retain fluid and increase your blood pressure. Drinking alcohol and smoking can damage your heart over time.Smoking or chewing tobacco immediately raises your blood pressure, and long-term tobacco use can damage the walls of her arteries.

If you think you might be at risk for hypertension, it’s important to have your blood pressure checked. Make an appointment at Rose City Urgent Care & Family Practice for a screening and to find out what you can do to stay as healthy as possible.

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