High blood pressure (hypertension) can be tricky because people don’t realize they have it a lot of the time. But uncontrolled high blood pressure can put you at risk for potentially life-threatening complications.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around one out of three American adults have high blood pressure. Even more concerning is that nearly 20% of people don’t know they have it and are not receiving potentially life-saving blood pressure treatment.
What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of circulating blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Your arteries are responsible for moving blood from your heart to the rest of your body. High blood pressure is when the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels is consistently too high.
A poor diet or chronic health conditions can cause high blood pressure. Hypertension is also hereditary, meaning if your parents or other close relatives have high blood pressure, you’re at a higher risk.
Damaging Effects of Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure
A lot can happen when people with hypertension don’t receive proper blood pressure treatment?
Below are some common issues caused by uncontrolled high blood pressure.
Heart Attack – Hypertension damages your artery walls and makes them more susceptible to blockages. Clogged arteries stop blood flow to the heart muscle, increasing your chances of a heart attack.
Vision Issues – High blood pressure can weaken and damage blood vessels in your eyes. People with hypertension are more likely to develop vision problems. If you don’t seek blood pressure treatment, your risks of permanent vision loss or impairment are higher.
Sexual Dysfunction – High blood pressure has been linked to erectile dysfunction in men and lower libido in women.
Kidney Damage – Your kidneys work hard to eliminate toxins and keep your body functioning correctly. High blood pressure often leads to kidney issues because it can damage the arteries around your kidneys. When your kidneys can’t do their job, you’re at a much higher risk of kidney failure.
Stroke – Hypertension can drive blood vessels that deliver blood and oxygen to the brain to clog or burst, leading to a stroke.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) – PAD happens when the arteries in your legs, arms, stomach, or head become slimmer. Narrow arteries will often cause pain, cramping, and fatigue. If you have Peripheral Artery Disease, you’re also at a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
Heart Failure – If your heart has to work harder to circulate your blood, it can cause the heart to expand and fail to supply blood to the rest of your body.
Chest Pain – You may experience uncomfortable chest pain if your heart doesn’t get the blood supply to function properly. When people with high blood pressure do physical exercise like walking upstairs or walking uphill, they may experience a squeezing, pain, or a feeling of fullness in the chest.
What is a Hypertensive Crisis?
A hypertensive crisis is a severe increase in blood pressure. It’s a medical emergency that rapidly causes your blood pressure to rise above 180/120. If this happens, it can lead to organ damage and other potentially life-threatening complications.
It’s essential to beware of the signs of a blood pressure emergency. Symptoms of a hypertensive crisis include:
- Blurry vision or other vision problems
- Severe headaches
- Shortness of breath
- Chest discomfort or pain
- Anxiety or nervousness
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, call 911 or visit the nearest hospital emergency department right away to either treat or rule out a hypertensive crisis.
When Should You Consider Blood Pressure Treatment
High blood pressure is defined as 130 for the first (higher) number and 80 or higher for the second (lower) number.
Your blood pressure deviates throughout the day, but if it’s consistently reading high, talk to your doctor about potentially starting medication or making lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure.
Protect Your Cardiovascular Health
There are several types of blood pressure treatment options available. In most cases, hypertension can be successfully treated using a combination of medication and healthy lifestyle changes, or both.
Managing your blood pressure can lower your risks of serious health complications and significantly improve your overall health. Schedule an appointment with Complete Health Care today if you have uncontrolled hypertension or think you might be at risk.