There is a medical condition that can cause a fatal heart attack or stroke without any warning. We call it the silent killer because most of the people who suffer from it don’t have any symptoms or warning signs. That condition is high blood pressure, also called hypertension, and roughly one out of every three adults in the United States suffers from it, whether they know about it or not.
What is High Blood Pressure?
Our hearts pump blood through our veins and arteries to get it where it needs to go. The blood naturally pushes against those blood vessels, just like water does when we force it through a tube. That force is our blood pressure. There is always going to be some pressure, but too much will cause problems.
One problem is that it wastes energy, which forces the body to do more work and wears it out more quickly. Unfortunately, there is also another problem. High blood pressure wears away at the blood vessels over time, which causes little tears in their walls. Plaque forms in those tears, which causes the blood vessels to get narrower. Forcing the blood through a smaller space increases the pressure on the walls, which makes matters even worse.
Why is it Dangerous?
Blood carries oxygen and other vital substances throughout the body. Every part of the human body needs to get something from the blood in order to function. Therefore, serious complications can arise if something inhibits the blood flow.
The heart is one of the most important organs, and one of the ones that suffers the most from high blood pressure. The disease naturally reduces the rate at which blood flows to the heart. That can stop the heart from properly pumping blood to the rest of the body in the event of heart failure; or it can cause a heart attack if the heart is deprived of oxygen. Both of those cases can be fatal.
Our brains also need to get plenty of oxygen in order to function, and they rely on our blood to deliver it. A blockage in the arteries that lead into the brain can prevent brain cells from getting oxygen, which causes them to die. That process is known as a stroke, which can be fatal. Survivors tend to have lasting problems, because they can cause permanent brain damage.
We can treat high blood pressure with a mixture of lifestyle changes and medication. Leading a healthy lifestyle can also prevent it from developing in the first place!
We encourage people to exercise regularly to reduce their risk of hypertension. A healthy diet is also vital. Most people need to reduce their intake of salt, fat, and cholesterol while boosting their consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables. Smoking also increases the risk of high blood pressure; and quitting can be a great way to get it under control.
It can be hard to tell which changes need to be made without help from a professional. It is generally a good idea to get in touch with a medical professional to work out a plan for improvement. They can help identify the things that need to change and provide the support that makes those changes possible.