Considered to be a silent killer, high blood pressure can sneak up on you without any symptoms and put you at risk for heart disease! High blood pressure, also known as HBP or hypertension, is a condition that makes the heart work harder than normal. If left untreated, it damages your arteries and can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, eye damage, heart failure, and fatty buildups in the arteries, called atherosclerosis. According to the World Heart Federation, around 50% of heart attacks and strokes are associated with high blood pressure.
High blood pressure usually develops over time and is the effect of lifestyle choices, such as not getting enough physical activity, or an unhealthy diet. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, can also increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. It can also happen during pregnancy. According to the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA), nearly 1 in 2 adults in the U.S. suffer from high blood pressure.
How is blood pressure measured?
According to the American Heart Association, blood pressure is recorded as two numbers:
Systolic: The top number in the ratio, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats.
Diastolic: The bottom number in the ratio, measures the pressure in the arteries between the heartbeats.
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and according to new ACC/AHA High Blood Pressure Guidelines released in November 2017, high blood pressure is considered at a systolic blood pressure of 130 mmHg or above or diastolic blood pressure of 80 mmHg or above, or both. It is considered to be severe hypertension if, systolic blood pressure is higher than 180 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure is higher than 110 mmHg.
Hypertensive Heart Diseases
High blood pressure causes hypertensive heart disease, which is a group of heart disorders that includes heart failure, ischemic heart disease, and left ventricular hypertrophy (excessive thickening of the heart muscle).
How can hypertensive heart diseases be treated?
In order to treat hypertensive heart disease, your doctor your high blood pressure that is causing it. In addition to a variety of medicines, your doctor may advise you to make lifestyle changes like:
- Diet: Lower your daily intake of sodium, consume high fiber and potassium food, limit the intake of foods that contain refined sugar, trans fats, and cholesterol.
- Keep your weight in check: Increasing your activity level, setting a daily exercise routine that suits best for your body, and monitoring your body weight.
- Avoid tobacco products and alcohol
- Regular medical checkups: Have regular follow-up visits to your doctor and make sure your heart rate and blood pressure is in check.
Although there is no cure for high blood pressure, it is manageable and preventable by adopting a healthy lifestyle which includes a diet that has low salt, saturated fats, cholesterol, and alcohol. Physical activity and weight loss also play key roles in lowering your blood pressure. By taking action to keep your blood pressure steady, you can help protect yourself against numerous heart diseases and stroke, also known as cardiovascular disease (CVD).