Sure Signs You Have Hypertension, Say Physicians
An average of 116 million Americans live with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, a condition that puts you at risk for stroke and heart disease which are leading causes of death according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, MBBS, Ph.D., a professor of public health at New Mexico State University tells Eat This, Not That! Health, "Nearly half of the U.S. adults have hypertension, but less than a quarter of the individuals diagnosed with hypertension have it under control. So, it is not surprising that hypertension is a major or contributing cause for more than half a million deaths every year." The widespread problem is a major concern and Dr. Khubchandani explains signs to watch out for and how to prevent hypertension. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
What is Hypertension?
According to the World Health Organization, "Blood pressure is the force exerted by circulating blood against the walls of the body's arteries, the major blood vessels in the body. Hypertension is when blood pressure is too high. Blood pressure is written as two numbers. The first (systolic) number represents the pressure in blood vessels when the heart contracts or beats. The second (diastolic) number represents the pressure in the vessels when the heart rests between beats. Hypertension is diagnosed if, when it is measured on two different days, the systolic blood pressure readings on both days is ≥140 mmHg and/or the diastolic blood pressure readings on both days is ≥90 mmHg."
Dr. Khubchandani shares, "Due to very high blood pressures that are a part of hypertensive crises and should be considered a medical emergency. It should be noted that headache is an inconsistent and inconclusive symptom, the best way to know about hypertension is to check for blood pressure."
Dr. Khubchandani says, "Chest pain is another pain symptom that may occur with or without headache during hypertensive crisis. However, in most people with hypertension, this is not a commonly observed symptom. Chest pain could only be with extremely high blood pressures especially with heart attacks or coronary artery disease."
Other Signs to Watch Out For
"Other nonspecific symptoms that may occur during a hypertensive crises or infrequently with hypertension are fatigue, difficulty breathing, tiredness, vision problems, or confusion," says Dr. Khubchandani.
Get Your Blood Pressure Checked Regularly
Dr. Khubchandani explains, "Unfortunately, many people may not have any symptoms of hypertension or might not even know that they have hypertension. The American Heart Association labels the disease as largely symptomless and a 'silent killer'. Therefore, it is critical for adults to have their blood pressure checked regularly or find devices in public settings (e.g. pharmacy shops, grocery stores, etc) to quickly screen their blood pressure."
Hypertension Can Cause Serious Health Issues
According to Dr. Khubchandani. "If hypertension is severe, some symptoms may appear in individuals. However, one should not wait for or anticipate these symptoms as they are a part of a hypertensive crisis (a medical emergency) that may be followed by stroke, heart attack, acute kidney failure, or other severe outcomes."
Lifestyle Choices Increase the Risk of Hypertension
Dr. Khubchandani shares, "The risk factors for hypertension need to be kept in mind by all that include, but are not limited to, older age, being overweight, heavy alcohol or tobacco use, eating a high salt diet or having sedentary lifestyles with high stress."
Blood Pressure and Pregnancy
Dr. Khubchandani. emphasizes, "Blood pressure should also be carefully monitored during pregnancy as hypertension complicates nearly a tenth of all pregnancies or occurs during more than a tenth of all pregnancies. Hypertension can affect pregnancy because of preexisting high blood pressure (chronic hypertension), hypertension during the latter part of pregnancy (gestational hypertension or preeclampsia), or chronic hypertension with superimposed gestational hypertension (the risk of hypertension increasing due to risk of pre-existing hypertension). While the symptoms of pregnancy related hypertension are non-specific similar to hypertension in the general public, regular checkups are the key to ensuring healthy babies and reduced maternal death and complications."
Dr. Khubchandani reveals, "Sometimes, hypertension is due to an underlying disease condition (known as secondary hypertension). A wide variety of diseases can cause elevated blood pressure such as kidney disease, tumors of adrenal glands, thyroid or parathyroid gland diseases, obstructive sleep apnea, congenital heart disorders, and the use of cough and cold medications, antidepressants, certain birth control pills, some diet supplements, or illegal drugs (e.g. cocaine or meth). Some key features of secondary hypertension are that it can occur in younger individuals, there may not be a family history of high blood pressure, the hypertension is resistant to traditional treatments, can be accompanied with changes in body weight, there are signs and symptoms of other diseases, and laboratory tests may show abnormal levels of markers such as sodium, calcium, potassium, creatinine, thyroid hormones, or blood urea nitrogen (BUN)."
How to Help Prevent Hypertension
Dr. Khubchandani reminds us that, "Regular checkups and screening remain key in diagnosing and managing hypertension. Certain lifestyle changes can also reduce the risk of hypertension or help manage hypertension. These lifestyle changes include increasing exercise and physical activity, eating less salt and more fruits and vegetables, managing stress and body weight, maintaining sleep hygiene and daily routines, and avoiding alcohol, tobacco, or drug use."
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