High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common yet serious medical issue that everyone should understand and be aware of the causes. Many people who suffer from it can go for years without displaying any symptoms, so it is vital to understand how to prevent it and when to consult with a physician.
What is Hypertension?
Hypertension is a long-term problem that occurs when a person’s blood pressure in their arteries is too high. Blood pressure depends on both the amount of force that the heart is using to pump the blood and the degree of constriction in the arteries. If the heart is pumping too hard or arteries are resisting the flow of blood, your blood pressure will rise.
The Dangers of Hypertension
Hypertension is a silent disease; many people don’t experience any visible symptoms. Some people do experience headaches, nosebleeds, or shortness of breath, but they are a small minority of the people who suffer from hypertension. Even people who do have those symptoms may not realize the true cause because there are many other conditions that have similar symptoms.
High blood pressure is dangerous because it leads to issues that are hard to spot. It can cause the arteries to thicken and harden over time, which increases your odds of suffering a lethal heart attack or stroke. In some cases, it can cause weakening and bulging in the blood vessels instead, which can lead to an aneurysm.
Some people suffer other physical issues like loss of vision or trouble with kidneys. Some even suffer from metabolic problems that can lead to weight gain or diabetes.
Hypertension can also cause mental problems. Narrowed arteries can inhibit the flow of blood into the brain and cause dementia. Many people with high blood pressure also have trouble remembering things or learning new information.
What Causes Hypertension?
Hypertension is a common medical problem in part because there are so many factors that can cause it. It is possible to have some of these traits without suffering from hypertension, and it is possible to develop high blood pressure without having all of them. These are typical factors that increase the risk of developing hypertension:
- Excessive salt consumption
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Being overweight
- Lack of exercise
- A family history of hypertension
- Kidney disease
- Sleep apnea
Some of those factors, such as old age or a family predisposition to the disease, are unavoidable. However, most of the others are lifestyle factors that can be controlled. It takes some hard work, but it is possible to reduce the risk of suffering from hypertension.
How You Can Prevent Hypertension
One of the best ways for most people to control their risk of hypertension is to address the habits that cause it. Everyone can benefit from healthy habits, but this is especially important for people who have a family history of hypertension. There are no miracle cures, and it is possible to make healthy changes and still develop hypertension, but it can go a long way in preventing the development of the disease.
Diet and exercise can make a big difference. They help keep a person’s weight under control, which reduces their overall risk. Most people in the modern world have fairly poor diets, so a healthy change can make a big difference in spite of being a relatively small adjustment. It can be harder to quit smoking or cut back on alcohol, but those changes are critical for avoiding hypertension.
The best way to make these changes is to get in touch with your doctor. They can look at your lifestyle to see which changes you need to make. They can guide you towards healthy and effective methods, but how and when you make the change is what matters most.