Did you know that nearly 1/3 of American adults suffer from high blood pressure (BP) and more than half of them don’t even know they have it? 

High blood pressure often comes with no pre-defined signs or symptoms. So, while you may not feel that you are suffering from high blood pressure, it silently goes on to affect your body and causes extreme damage to your vital organs. In fact, your high blood pressure puts you at a significantly higher risk for stroke and heart attack. 

The good news is that high blood pressure can be easily detected through regular health screenings and scheduled annual physicals. You can even control the disease with medication and healthy lifestyle practices. 

Here’s all that you to know about high blood pressure, its negative impact on our health, and ways it can be managed. 

What is Blood Pressure?

Your blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance that it receives in your arteries. So, the more blood the heart pumps and the narrower your arteries are, the higher is your blood pressure. High blood pressure can damage your arteries and organs and can lead to life-threatening health conditions.  

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

Factors that lead to high blood pressure include: 

  • Age: Your risk for high blood pressure increases with age.
  • Race: High blood pressure is more common in African descendants. 
  • Family History: You may suffer from high blood pressure if it tends to run in your family. 
  • Being Overweight: Increased body weight affects the amount of blood that flows through your blood vessels. So the higher the blood flow, the more is the pressure on your artery walls. 
  • Inactive Lifestyle: Lack of physical activity also puts you at an increased risk for high blood pressure. 
  • Stress: High levels of occupational stress can also lead to increase in blood pressure. That’s why, it is essential to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • Smoking: Smoking or chewing tobacco damages the lining of your arteries, making them narrow increasing your risk of heart disease.  
  • Excessive Drinking: Heavy drinking can damage your heart and may affect your blood pressure. 
  • Excessive Use of Salt (sodium) in Your Diet: Eating too much sodium in your food can make your body retain fluid, which in turn increases your blood pressure. 
  • Chronic Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions can also increase your blood pressure. These include diabetes, kidney disease, and sleep apnea.  

How Does High Blood Pressure Affect Your Body?

Consistent high blood pressure damages the delicate tissues inside your arteries and leads to serious health problems, including: 

Stroke: Narrowing of arteries and decreased supply of blood and oxygen to the brain due to high BP can lead to stroke. In fact, high blood pressure puts you at four times higher risk for stroke.
Heart Attack: High blood pressure can cause hardening and thickening of the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack. People with high blood pressure are at three times higher risk for heart attack than healthy individuals.
Kidney Damage or Failure: High blood pressure weakens and narrows the blood vessels of your kidneys, leading to kidney damage and failure.
Eye Damage: High BP can cause thickening of blood vessels in the eyes, which can lead to vision loss.
Vascular Dementia: Uncontrolled high blood pressure can also affect your ability to think, remember and learn. Narrowed and blocked arteries can limit the flow of blood to the brain, leading to vascular dementia 

That’s why, it is extremely important to get your blood pressure monitored by your physician at regular intervals. Through guided medication and healthy lifestyle practices, your EPIC provider can help you manage your blood pressure and keep it well under control. 

Health Tips to Avoid High Blood Pressure

While medication and lifestyle changes can help you control your high blood pressure, here are a few things that you can do to protect yourself from high blood pressure and its life-threatening complications: 

  • Eat Healthy: Eat a heart-healthy diet that’s low in sodium. Include a lot of fruits and greens in your diet and avoid processed foods that load your body with empty calories.
  • Exercise Regularly: Make it a point to include at least half an hour of moderate-to-intense physical activity in your routine, on all days of the week.  
  • Keep Your Weight In Check: Excessive body weight is one of the biggest factors that lead to high BP. So try to keep your weight with a healthy range. 
  • Stay Stress-Free: Practice yoga, meditation, and other relaxation techniques to reduce stress in your life. 
  • Quit Smoking & Drinking: Minimize smoking and drinking and quit them altogether if possible. 
  • Limit Caffeine: Caffeine significantly increases your blood pressure levels. So, keep the consumption of coffee and other caffeinated beverages to a bare minimum.
  • Schedule Regular Health Screenings: Annual physicals can help your primary care physician keep a check on your health. Through regular screenings, your doctor can help you detect and prevent chronic health issues that can lead to high blood pressure. 

In case you or your loved one needs help with high blood pressure management and control, feel free to schedule an appointment at EPIC Health. To book your slot, visit https://www.epichs.org/appointment/