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blood against your artery walls is high
enough that it may eventually cause health
problems. “The more blood your heart
pumps and the narrower your arteries,
the higher your blood pressure,” she
says. “High blood pressure is also known
also as a silent killer and this is because
unfortunately many people don’t even
know that they have hypertension because
high blood pressure has no symptoms
or warning signs.” This, accompanied by
abnormal cholesterol and blood sugar
levels, can ultimately result in damage to
your arteries, kidneys and heart which
accelerate exponentially. In fact, untreated
hypertension increases the risk of heart
disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness
and dementia.
What the Numbers mean
Everybody needs to know their blood
pressure numbers, and everyone needs
to prevent high blood pressure from
developing. While many individuals
develop high blood pressure as they get
older, it is definitely
not
a hallmark of
healthy aging. According to the National
Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, all levels
above 120/80 mmHg raise your risk, and
the risk grows as blood pressure levels rise.
“Pre-hypertension” means you’re likely to
end up with high blood pressure unless
you take steps to prevent it. For adults
under 65, it’s that upper number in your
blood pressure reading that may be the
best indicator of future heart problems or
even premature death. If that first number
is 140 or higher, you have reason for
concern. For those 65 and older, however,
it’s a trickier situation. Readings may vary
more and doctors need to be careful in
prescribing blood pressure medication for
older patients.
Reasons for
High Blood Pressure
According to Dr. Shetty, high blood
pressure typically develops over many
years and it affects nearly everyone
eventually. “There is no identifiable
cause,” she says and in fact, this type of
hypertension is called primary or essential
hypertension. There is another type
of hypertension, points out Dr. Shetty,
known as secondary hypertension which
can be the result of various underlying
conditions and medications. “This type
of hypertension can appear suddenly
and can cause higher blood pressure
than does primary hypertension,” she
says. “Some examples include congenital
or genetic defect in the blood vessels,
kidney problems, adrenal glands tumours,
prolonged use of medications such as
birth control pills, cold remedies as well as
drug abuse such as cocaine.”
Dangerous
Consequences
Dr. Shetty
explains that
the negative
consequences
of having
high blood
pressure can
be lethal if
not caught
and treated
accordingly.
“Some of these
consequences
include heart
attack, heart failure,
aneurysm and
stroke, weakened
and narrowed blood
vessels in kidney
as well as kidney
failure,” she says.
“Others potentially
dangerous
consequences
include thickened,
narrowed or torn
vessels in the thighs,
trouble with memory
or understanding
and/or difficulties
with vision.”
Signs of blood pressure
There’s a common misconception that
people with high blood pressure, also
called hypertension, will experience
symptoms such as nervousness, sweating,
difficulty sleeping or facial flushing. The
truth is that high blood pressure can be
largely a symptomless condition. If you
ignore your blood pressure because you
think symptoms will alert you to the
problem, you are taking a dangerous
chance with your life. Most people with
high blood pressure have no signs or
symptoms even if the blood pressure
readings are on the higher side, explains
Dr. Shetty. “However the following
symptoms can be observed in some
individuals: a dull headache, dizzy spells,
and/or bleeding from the nose,” she says.
Low Blood Pressure
On the flip side is low blood pressure
which Dr. Shetty explains is a condition
when the pressure of pumped blood
from heart is not adequate to maintain
the circulation of the body. While
many mistakenly think that low blood
pressure is not much a health concern,
Dr. Shetty says that it can also be
problematic. “Symptoms of low blood
pressure include dizziness, weakness,
light headaches, risk of injury from falls,
fainting, a lack of concentration, blurred
vision, nausea, fatigue as well as cold and
clammy extremities,” she says. “It is not
a matter so much as how low but how
quickly your blood pressure drops.”
Treatment of
High Blood Pressure
Treating high blood pressure is a multi-
pronged approach, tells Dr. Shetty and
it includes changes in diet, the intake of
certain prescribed medications as well as
exercise and lifestyle modifications.”A few
lifestyle habits that can be incorporated
when dealing with high blood pressure
include limiting alcohol, managing stress,
increase physical activity, maintain a
healthy weight and finally, be sure to
monitor your blood pressure regularly,”
she says.
Jan/Feb 2014
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