One-third of people with high blood pressure feel “normal”; and therefore, it is called the “silent killer.” High blood pressure is an elevated force against the arteries walls. It can go undetected for years resulting in significant damage before there are signs that something is wrong.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease which is the leading cause of death among Americans. If it is uncontrolled, you are susceptible to kidney failure, a heart attack, a stroke, poor blood circulation, and damage to the eyes. It is important to be proactive in lowering your blood pressure.
The number to know is 120/80. The top number is the force of the blood when the heart is working. The bottom number is the force of the blood when the heart is relaxing. Put it on your Facebook page, in your iphone, make it your screensaver, flag it anyway you choose, as long as you know that a normal blood pressure is 120/80. See your doctor for any number higher.
Who has high blood pressure? High blood pressure is not reserved for a specific age, ethnicity, or sex; partly because, the fast paced lifestyle of many Americans lends itself to a fried, salty, sugary, super-sized diet. You are more likely to have it if:
- your exercise is flipping channels with a remote.
- your muffin top is not on a pastry menu.
- your happy hour last for hours.
- you can be mistaken for a chimney.
- you are awaken by the roaring melody of your own snoring.
- you are usually seconds from spontaneous combustion.
In essence, high blood pressure is more likely to occur in an inactive, exhausted, overweight smoker who manages stress with more than 1-2 alcoholic drinks a day.
Some risk factors for high blood pressure that cannot be modified include:
- family history – it is diagnosed amongst close blood relatives;
- age – as you age the blood vessels loose flexibility resulting in high blood pressure; and
- race – African Americans develop high blood pressure earlier than whites and often have more complications.
What does uncontrolled blood pressure look like? You may recognize it as a stroke, heart attack, or kidney disease. Unfortunately, the damage from these complications of hypertension may not be reversible. Of note, many people don’t have warning signs before they have a stroke or heart attack. Advice: Don’t Wait To Feel Hypertension Before You Treat It!
The key is distinguishing the changeable from the non-changeable risks. Seek advice from your physician. Take medications as prescribed. Lifestyle modifications can help to reduce the number of medications required to control your blood pressure and limit damage to your organs (kidneys, heart, etc). A plan to lower your blood pressure should include the medical regimen recommended by your doctor as well as eating healthier foods, exercising, taking time to exhale, scheduling regular examinations, and creating a life that you enjoy!
The next time you decide to say no to the shake and bake, yes to the salt, drive by the gym, or pass on the physical exam remember you may be that one-third who is experiencing high blood pressure while feeling “normal.”