More than 30% of American adults have high blood pressure (hypertension). That’s over 100 million people. Yet only about half of them get treatment and have the condition under control.
At Heart & Vascular Institute, our expert providers often see patients unaware that they have high blood pressure or that it increases their risk of many other health problems.
We can help you understand your blood pressure reading and develop a plan to help you lower your blood pressure and avoid some of the dangers associated with hypertension.
What it means to have high blood pressure
Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood through your arteries. Your blood pressure measures how hard your blood pushes against the walls of your arteries.
There are two numbers in your blood pressure reading. The top number (systolic) reflects the pressure against your artery walls when your heart beats. The bottom number (diastolic) reflects the pressure between beats.
Normal blood pressure level is 120/80 or lower. If your reading is 130/90 or higher, you need treatment for hypertension.
Symptoms of high blood pressure
One reason hypertension is so dangerous is it doesn’t have symptoms. You likely don’t feel any different, even with a high reading.
Hypertension is sometimes referred to as the “silent killer” because people don’t know there’s a problem, so there’s no warning. Measuring your blood pressure is the only way to know your reading, and that’s why you have your blood pressure taken at most every doctor’s visit.
The dangers of high blood pressure
High blood pressure damages your blood vessels and, over time, can lead to serious health issues. However, getting your blood pressure under control helps.
Issues that commonly affect people with uncontrolled hypertension include:
The damage to your blood vessels can lead to blockages that impede blood flow to your heart. Over time, a blockage can break apart inside your artery, leading to a heart attack.
Just as your blood may not flow freely to your heart, you may have blockages that prevent it from reaching your brain, increasing your risk of stroke.
Damage to your heart isn’t always the result of a heart attack. Without proper blood flow, your heart works harder. It may become enlarged and not function as well. That means your heart doesn’t efficiently pump your blood to the rest of your body.
Kidney disease or failure
Kidneys that lack proper blood flow may not filter your blood as well as they should.
Your eyes need adequate blood flow to work well. Without it, your sight can suffer.
Men may experience erectile dysfunction due to damaged blood vessels and lack of blood flow, and women may experience lower libido.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
Damaged arteries give cholesterol a place to stick, causing a buildup of the waxy substance. That buildup can cause the blood vessels in your legs to narrow. A hallmark symptom of PAD is leg pain. Not enough blood reaches your muscles when you walk, and they cramp.
Do you know what your blood pressure is? If you don’t know, or if it’s higher than 120/80, schedule an appointment at Heart & Vascular Institute today so we can help. We’re conveniently located in Dearborn, Detroit, and Southfield, Michigan.