Believe it or not, you are most certainly not alone. 1 in 3 Americans has hypertension, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. So what causes it? Well, to be honest we are not quite sure. There are some cases that may be reversible, such as obesity, but typically there are no identifiable causes. In this case, it is called essential hypertension, and affects 90-095% of people. Patients that have essential hypertension are typically tried on diet correction (low salt) and exercise (leading to possible weight loss) prior to the start of medications. There are some cases however, which require medication first and foremost, if the pressure is just too high.
|My friend learning her blood pressure.|
It's never too early to learn your
The second, and obviously more rare causes of hypertension are called...by what other name then "secondary" hypertension. The causes of secondary hypertension include kidney problems, some medications (such as oral contraceptives and pain relievers) and illegal drugs. Luckily, the majority of secondary hypertension cases are reversible with discontinuation of the causative agents or correction of kidney problems (not always possible, though).
So why is high blood pressure education so important? Well, it is called the "silent killer" because a typical patient does not feel anything. Currently, you may have a severely elevated blood pressure, and not even know it. High blood pressure leads to cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the US. That's why it is SO important to be seen by a physician annually and get your BP checked. (This applies to everyone...even young adults and teenagers!)
What's normal? Less than 120/80. The first (or top) number is the pressure in your arteries when the heart is contracting/beating. The second (or bottom) is the pressure in your arteries when your heart is resting. There are various stages above this number that are pre-hypertension, stage 1 and stage 2 hypertension.
It you don't know your BP go find out now! It may just save your life!
Until next time,