The Dangers of High Blood Pressure

The Dangers of High Blood Pressure

The American Heart Association refers to hypertension (high blood pressure) as a silent killer.  That’s because high blood pressure can have severe consequences if left untreated, and unfortunately, it can persist for years without any noticeable symptoms. 

Untreated high blood pressure is serious, but thankfully, it’s easily detected quickly and easily with a sphygmomanometer. Dr. Rogers Walker and the team here at Walker Family Care in Little River, South Carolina, include blood pressure readings during every office visit. If any concerning trends appear, Dr. Walker can help you manage the condition before it spirals into bigger issues.

Below, the Walker Family Care team highlights the dangers of uncontrolled high blood pressure and how you can lower your levels.

What is considered high blood pressure?

High blood pressure occurs when the force of blood against the walls of your blood vessels is consistently too high. It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and consists of two values: systolic pressure (the higher number) and diastolic pressure (the lower number). A normal blood pressure reading is considered to be around 120/80 mm Hg. 

Elevated blood pressure is a systolic reading between 120-129 mm Hg and diastolic reading less than 80 mm Hg. High blood pressure is broken down into two stages:

Anything higher than stage 2 is considered a hypertensive crisis. This stage of hypertension does cause symptoms, and it’s considered a medical emergency. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, severe headaches, confusion, and shortness of breath. 

Why uncontrolled hypertension is so dangerous 

Uncontrolled hypertension is dangerous, even if you don’t notice any symptoms. Chronic high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels and increase your risk of several conditions, including: 

Heart disease and strokes 

High blood pressure is a serious risk factor for heart disease. It can force your heart to work harder, and that can lead to conditions like coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and heart failure.

Hypertension doesn’t just damage blood vessels in your heart. It can also damage blood vessels in your brain and increase your risk for having a stroke. Also known as “brain attacks,” strokes caused by high blood pressure can be debilitating or fatal.

Kidney damage

Your kidneys filter your blood, and they rely on small, delicate nephrons to do so. If those finger-like filters in your blood vessels are damaged, your kidneys can’t filter your blood properly. This can increase your risk of developing kidney disease or kidney failure. Without functioning kidneys, you need dialysis treatments to clean and filter your blood.

Vision problems

Every part of your body is affected by high blood pressure, and your eyes are no exception. Hypertension can affect the blood vessels in your eyes. When this happens, it’s called ocular hypertension, and it can cause vision problems and even blindness.

Aneurysms

The excessive force of blood against arterial walls can cause weakened areas to balloon out and potentially rupture. If the ballooned portion (called an aneurysm) ruptures, it can be potentially fatal. Aneurysms can develop in any artery, but they’re most common in the aorta.

Peripheral artery disease

High blood pressure can contribute to peripheral artery disease. When high blood pressure damages your blood vessels, it makes it more likely for plaque to stick and accumulate. This can cause your arteries to become narrower because of the blockages, and as your arteries become narrower, you experience reduced blood flow, pain, and potential tissue damage.

Reduced circulation can be even more problematic if you have diabetes. Peripheral artery disease can increase your risk of diabetic ulcers, gangrene, and even amputation.

How to manage high blood pressure

Untreated high blood pressure can be deadly, but with the right strategies, you can safely lower your blood pressure levels. Blood pressure can be managed through lifestyle changes, such as adopting a balanced diet, exercising regularly, practicing stress management techniques, and avoiding excessive alcohol and salt intake.

It may be important for you to take certain medication to control your blood pressure. There are many different types of medication used to lower blood pressure, and Dr. Walker determines the most suitable one for you. Even if you need medication, you may still benefit from lifestyle modifications.

Whether you manage your blood pressure with lifestyle modifications and/or medication, regular blood pressure checks are essential. These checks ensure that your current treatment plan is working as planned.

Are you concerned about high blood pressure?

Whether you have risk factors for high blood pressure, or you already know you have elevated blood pressure, don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Walker. Call 843-280-8333 to schedule your next exam, or simply click here to book your appointment.

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