High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common problem and affects about one of every three people in the United States. The causes for this health problem are not totally known, but research is ongoing. There are a number of risks, but in many cases the risk factors that can cause serious health difficulties can be lowered by certain lifestyle changes. Although some of the factors are purely genetic, others are very much affected by lifestyle decisions. The health risks of high blood pressure are dangerous and everyone should be aware of these factors.
Hypertension, sometimes called the ‘silent killer’ often has no outward symptoms until a major problem, such as a heart attack, brings it to light. Approximately 50,000 Americans die each year directly from it and the deaths of another 300,000 are contributed by high blood pressure. Healthy blood vessels expand and contract to manage the force exerted against the blood vessel walls as the heart pumps. The measurement of the force of the blood as the vessel walls expand and contract is called blood pressure. High pressure occurs when the vessels harden or become stiff and are no longer able to contract and expand as they did when healthy.
Sometimes blockages happen where damaged cells have absorbed fats and plaque is created in the lining of the arteries and this can increase blood pressure. The pressure increases because the heart has to pump harder to move the same amount of blood through vessels which have become constricted, or smaller. This puts more pressure on the blood vessel walls, which makes the readings higher. The risks are pretty major, since they involve the system for pushing blood throughout the body. Nutrients and oxygen are vital to each organ in the body and the blood is what delivers them. When the blood can’t deliver those nutrients and oxygen effectively, organs begin to slowly starve to death.
The four main organs affected the most are the brain, heart, eyes and kidneys. The risks to these organs include heart attack, kidney failure, congestive heart failure, stroke, mini stroke, aneurysm, irregular heart beat and even blindness. Medication can be used to treat high blood pressure, but changes in lifestyle such as exercise and diet can repair some of the damage caused as well as helping to lower it. With the severity of high blood pressure risks, those over 50 should have annual physicals to monitor their health.
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