Could You Have High Blood Pressure and Not Know It?

The consequences of living with high blood pressure — also called hypertension — can be dire. Not only is hypertension a contributor to strokes and heart disease — two of the most common killers in the country — high blood pressure itself can cause death. Nearly 80,000 Americans died from the condition in 2015 alone. Yet, despite the serious health risks associated with high blood pressure, it typically exhibits no symptoms until its very late stages.

So, it’s quite possible for you to develop high blood pressure without being aware you have it. If you have high blood pressure or suspect you have it, the health care professionals at Lagniappe Medical Clinic can give you a full evaluation and provide treatment if needed.

Characteristics of high blood pressure

As your heart pumps, the blood pressure in your arteries increases and decreases. When your heart contracts, it puts the most pressure on the walls of your arteries. This is called systolic blood pressure. When your heart rests between beats, it puts the least amount of pressure on your arteries. This is called diastolic blood pressure.

If your systolic blood pressure is 120 or under, and your diastolic blood pressure is 80 or under, you have normal blood pressure. If your systolic reading is 121-139 and your diastolic reading is 81-89, you have prehypertension. If your systolic reading is 140 or above and your diastolic reading is 90 or above, you have high blood pressure.

It’s important to note that your blood pressure will change throughout the day. An occasional high reading may not be a cause for alarm if your regular readings are within normal limits.

Risk factors for hypertension

There are many risk factors that can contribute to the development of high blood pressure. These risk factors may cause high blood pressure on their own or in combination with each other. The more risk factors you have, the more likely it is that you’ll develop high blood pressure. Some of the most common include:

Tobacco use 

Whether you smoke, chew, or breathe in second-hand smoke, the chemicals in tobacco can increase the formation of plaque in your blood vessels.

Alcohol overuse

Heavy drinking over time can damage your heart and raise your blood pressure.

Obesity

Carrying extra weight can make your heart work harder to supply your body with blood.

Inactive lifestyle

Without regular physical activity, your heart may beat faster and work harder.

Stress

Chronic stress can raise your blood pressure by itself or contribute to hypertension.

Chronic health conditions

Sleep apnea, diabetes, and even pregnancy can contribute to high blood pressure.

If you have high blood pressure, or if you have one or more risk factors and suspect a problem, contact the health care professionals at Lagniappe Medical Clinic. They’re your partners in diagnosing, treating, and managing hypertension. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone today.

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