Did you know that about 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure (hypertension)? This condition often shows no warning signs, yet can lead to life-threatening conditions such as stroke or heart attack. This causes many people to refer to the condition as the “silent killer.”
Over time, high blood pressure makes the heart work too hard and lose strength. This high pressure of blood flow damages the blood vessels and over time can harm organs such as the heart, kidneys, brain, and eyes.
“Hypertension is a leading risk factor for death and disability worldwide,” says Dr. Paul Whelton, an expert in hypertension and kidney disease at Tulane University. “High blood pressure raises the risk of having a heart attack, heart failure, stroke, or kidney disease.”
The risk for high blood pressure is greatest for those 60 and over.
“Once people are in their 60s, about two-thirds of the population is affected by hypertension,” Whelton says.
Excess weight or having a family history of high blood pressure also raises your risk for hypertension.
We shouldn’t let that despair us though. Steps such as early diagnosis and simple, healthy changes to your lifestyle can keep high blood pressure from damaging your health.
A simple cuff-on-the-arm blood pressure test is all that is required to diagnose the condition. The normal range is 120/80 or lower, as tested by your physician. A reading of 130/80 or higher is generally considered to be high blood pressure.
“Hypertension is defined as having an average blood pressure of above 130/80,” says NIH’s Dr. Lawrence Fine, who oversees research on the treatment and prevention of hypertension. Since blood pressure can vary widely from day to day, a diagnosis of hypertension is usually based on an average of 2 or more readings taken on 2 or more occasions.
“We know we can prevent high blood pressure through diet, weight loss, and physical activity,” Whelton says. “We can also treat it, and we can treat it effectively.”
Once diagnosed, your physician can work with you on a plan to reduce your blood pressure.
“Making even small changes over time can really add up,” says Kathryn McMurry, a nutrition science expert at NIH.
If you or someone you love needs help managing hypertension in the home, reach out to Sunshine Home Care via our contact form or call us at 877-477-2014 for more information today.