Things To Know About Blood Pressure


blood presureDid you know that May is Blood Pressure Awareness Month? For most of us, blood pressure is just this cuff that squeezes your arm so tightly you want to scream. If you’ve never had an issue with blood pressure I’m sure you’ve even forgot to ask what your reading was. For those (like me) who’ve had issues, that tiny little cuff can cause major anxiety and fear. Unfortunately anyone at any point can develop high blood pressure (hypertension). It’s quick, it’s silent, and can be deadly if you don’t know the warning signs.

What Is Hypertension?

According to National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, blood pressure is “The force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. High blood pressure, sometimes called hypertension, happens when this force is too high.” The normal levels for blood pressure are 120 systolic (when your heart is beating) and 80 diastolic (when your heart is resting). From my experience with many different doctors, each one has a different opinion as to what numbers categorize hypertension. However, the majority of my doctors got concerned when my systolic reading would go above 140 and my diastolic reading would go over 90.

Warning Signs of Hypertension

Here is why hypertension is called a “silent killer.” Most of the time there are no symptoms. When my blood pressure was high I felt perfectly fine. There were no headaches, or spots in front of my eyes or nosebleeds. My hypertension was detected by a OB/GYN visit during my 31st week of pregnancy. Hypertension during pregnancy is a completely different topic as it can also be associated with pre-eclampsia. In some respects pre-eclampsia makes recognizing blood pressure issues easier. I had massive swelling in my face, ankles and hands before my OB/GYN visit which prompted my mother to make me go in to see the doctor before my scheduled appointment. 

According to the American Heart Association, “About 85 million Americans — one out of every three adults over age 20 — have high blood pressure. Nearly one of out six don’t even know they have it.” This is simply because they show no symptoms of anything being wrong. If these individuals don’t go to regular doctor visits they will never know there is a problem.

Complications of Hypertension

Untreated hypertension can cause a lot of dangerous health issues. It can lead to strokes, aneurysms, heart attacks, heart and kidney failure and permanent damage to your eyes. For people with undiagnosed hypertension one of these complications will be the only way they realize they have hypertension. Will you suffer a stroke if your blood pressure is high once – probably not. However, long-term undiagnosed hypertension can be damaging to all of your vital organs. This is why it’s so important to make sure your blood pressure is monitored on a consistent basis.

Prevention and Treatment of Hypertension

If you’re like me, you don’t want to go to the doctor all the time just to have your blood pressure monitored. Given my history of hypertension I bought a blood pressure machine similar to this one. This was a quick and effective way fro me to monitor my blood pressure at home. If there was ever an issue I was able to call my doctor, give him my readings and we would decide on the next steps.

Genetics can play a big role in your risk of developing hypertension. My entire family suffers from it. After being on blood pressure medication since 2009 I figured there was nothing I could do to change it. However, in 2015 I started leading a healthy lifestyle including exercising, eating right and reducing the amount of sodium in my diet. Now I’m officially off blood pressure medication for almost a full year. 

Keeping up with a healthy lifestyle can help with keeping your blood pressure within normal limits. However that doesn’t mean it will always work. I have no preconceived notion that I will never have to go back on blood pressure medication. I have a significant family history of hypertension which makes me pre-disposed to the condition regardless of how much I exercise or how well I eat.

Treatment for hypertension is with medication. Based on your readings and history your doctor will decide on the best coarse of medication for you. Regulation of your medication and dosage can take be a trial and error process. You will probably be making more doctor visits than usual for monitoring – but it’s a small price to health. 

*This post is written from my own personal experience and perspective. Please consult your health care provider with questions and concerns. 


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