If you can’t feel it, it’s not a big deal, right? But there’s a reason high blood pressure is called the “silent killer.” You can’t feel high blood pressure, but that doesn’t mean it’s not harmful.
At MS Family Medicine Health Care PC in Rosedale and Garden City, New York, Michele Reed, DO, FAAFP, and our team of compassionate medical providers take patient health seriously. We see the long-term effects of hypertension and do our best to help our patients manage their disease to prevent complications.
In this month’s blog, we want to explain why you shouldn’t ignore your high blood pressure.
How hypertension affects health
Nearly one out of every two adults in the United States has high blood pressure, also called hypertension, and only 25% of those with high blood pressure have it under control.
Your blood pressure measures the force of blood against your artery walls during and in between heartbeats. If the pressure is too high for too long, it damages your blood vessels, making them stiff and narrow. Your heart must then work harder to pump blood through the smaller, inflexible tubes.
The increased pressure damages the tiniest blood vessels first, like those in your eyes and kidneys, decreasing the delivery of oxygen-rich blood to these organs, affecting health and function.
All of this happens without causing symptoms.
Health risks of high blood pressure
High blood pressure is a chronic disease, a health condition that lasts more than a year and requires ongoing medical care and monitoring. It also puts you at risk of other long-term health problems, like:
- Coronary artery disease (CAD)
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
- Kidney disease
- Vascular dementia
- Vision loss
- Sexual dysfunction
Your blood vessels continue to narrow and stiffen the longer you ignore your high blood pressure. The damage makes your arteries more susceptible to plaque buildup — atherosclerosis — that may block the flow of blood or lead to the formation of blood clots.
The blockages and blood clots in your arteries then cause heart attacks and strokes — deadly consequences of uncontrolled high blood pressure.
Our own Dr. Reed spoke with cardiology specialist Dr. Sonia Henry about hypertension on an episode of Fit Doc Podcast. Watch and learn more about hypertension, heart health, and what you can do to protect your health.
Taking back control
Anyone can have high blood pressure, but it’s more common in people of color. Because you can’t feel your blood pressure when it’s too high, you need to get your numbers checked regularly. Our team takes blood pressure readings at every physical and annual checkup.
If we see a pattern of higher-than-normal blood pressure readings, we may ask you to monitor your blood pressure at home before making a formal diagnosis.
Lifestyle changes are a major part of a hypertension treatment plan. Incorporating one or two of the following can benefit your blood pressure and your health.
Healthy habits that benefit blood pressure include:
- Eating more fruits and vegetables
- Limiting salty foods
- Finding time to exercise
- Getting at least seven hours of sleep a night
- Finding ways to lower stress (meditation, mindfulness, exercise)
- Maintaining a healthy weight
We may prescribe blood pressure medications if you’re unable to lower your blood pressure with lifestyle changes alone. Blood pressure medications are effective, but work best when combined with healthy habits.
High blood pressure is deadly when ignored. Are you having a hard time managing your blood pressure? Do you want to take control of your health? Let us help. Book an appointment online or over the phone with MS Family Medicine Health Care PC today.