A Canadian study done this year showed a startling statistic about high blood pressure (HBP). The study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, revealed that 50% of the public did not know that they had high blood pressure, despite having some symptoms. Nearly 2% of those tested had hazardous blood pressure levels. The study which used mobile clinics set up at public places measured the blood pressure of 1097 people. Some people didn’t believe the medical professionals when they were told that their blood pressure was too high. It is critical that the public is educated about HBP and how to recognize the early symptoms.
Blood pressure is a measurement of the pressure of the blood against the walls of the blood vessels. It can vary based on exertion or health issues. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is diagnosed through a blood pressure reading. The reading, done by a medical professional, results in two numbers and is expressed as the first number “over” the second number. The top number is the systolic measurement, and the bottom number is the diastolic measurement.
The systolic measurement indicates how much pressure the blood pushes against the walls of the artery every time your heart beats. The diastolic number shows how much pressure the blood pushes against the walls of the artery while the heart is in between beats. By looking at these two numbers, your doctor can tell whether your blood pressure needs medical treatment. Here are the numbers that your doctor uses to make a diagnosis:
Normal blood pressure means the systolic is less than 120mmg and the diastolic is less than 80mmg.
Elevated blood pressure means that the systolic is between 120mmg and 129mmg, and the diastolic is less than 80mmg.
High blood pressure, or hypertension stage one means that the systolic is between 130mmg and 139mmg, OR the diastolic is between 80mmg and 89mmg.
High blood pressure, or hypertension stage two means that the systolic is higher than 140mmg, OR the diastolic is 90 or higher.
Hypertensive crisis means that the systolic is over 150mmg AND/OR the diastolic is over 120mmg. In the case of a hypertensive crisis, the patient should see a doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.
Very high, untreated blood pressure is also known as malignant hypertension. This refers to a condition where the blood pressure systolic number is over 180mmg and should be treated as a medical emergency. Malignant hypertension can cause organ damage and many other severe consequences. Fortunately, malignant hypertension is rare, affecting less than 1% of patients with hypertension.
Secondary hypertension occurs when another medical condition or medication causes HP pressure, and your doctor can manage this condition.
According to the Mayo Clinic, most people who have high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms. Blood pressure can be dangerously high, and still, the person has no symptoms. Some people who have HBP may experience
Unfortunately, usually these signs don’t appear until the blood pressure is very high and could be life-threatening. Other symptoms of high blood pressure may occur. HBP that is untreated can impair the way the kidneys work, leading to swelling in the legs. It can also lead to poor circulation which means cold or numb feet. And if not treated, HBP could contribute to a heart attack or stroke.
The best way to determine whether or not you have high blood pressure is to have regular checkups with your doctor. The recommendation is that everyone has their blood pressure checked at least every two years after turning age 18, or for people over 40, every year. If a patient has been diagnosed with HBP, they will usually have their pressure screened even more frequently. Many public pharmacies and stores have blood pressure machines that provide a low-cost way to have your blood pressure checked, but they may not be entirely accurate because of cuff size and user error. But, if you don’t have regular medical checkups, this may be an excellent way to get an idea of what your blood pressure might be.
High blood pressure is sometimes referred to as the “silent killer” because it has so few specific symptoms, yet the results of not treating the condition can be deadly. Blood pressure that is not controlled can have severe consequences, and the higher the blood pressure and the longer the blood pressure goes undiagnosed, the more severe the consequences.
Here are 6 results of high blood pressure that is not well controlled:
Heart attack/stroke – High blood pressure, especially blood pressure that is not treated, causes the arteries to get thicker and harder. This makes it harder for the blood to pass through. This can lead to a stroke or a heart attack.
Heart failure – When the heart muscle has to work harder to pump the blood because of the higher pressure, the heart muscle gets thicker. The heart has a hard time pumping properly, and can eventually fail.
Aneurysm – An an aneurysm occurs when part of the wall of the artery weakens and balloons out or bulges. If this aneurysm ruptures, it can cause life-threatening complications.
Blood vessel injury in the kidneys and eyes – Uncontrolled HBP can cause vessels in the kidneys to narrow and become weak so that the kidneys stop functioning normally. In the eyes, blood vessels may narrow and tear, resulting in loss of vision.
Metabolic syndrome – Metabolic syndrome is an umbrella term that refers to several disorders related to HBP. In can include a large circumference of the waist, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), and high insulin levels in addition to the high blood pressure.
Memory and concentration problems – People with high blood pressure may find it difficult to concentrate, to learn new things, or to remember things.
The first step in treating high blood pressure is to see your doctor. Depending on how high your blood pressure is, the doctor may recommend lifestyle changes before prescribing medication. Lifestyle changes include maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol and quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, including the DASH diet, and exercising regularly.
If your blood pressure is not wee all controlled with lifestyle changes, the doctor will prescribe medication to help lower your blood pressure. Additionally, many patients try alternative or complementary therapies to help lower blood pressure. Reducing stress is important, and may be achieved through yoga, meditation, acupuncture or biofeedback. Some vitamin and mineral supplements may also have a positive effect on blood pressure. Minerals like magnesium and plant-based supplements such as dark cocoa, CoQ10, garlic and CBD oil, (cannabis compound), have shown some evidence that they may help blood pressure.
Early research shows a link between vitamin D deficiency and HBP, so having your vitamin D levels checked and taking supplements may be helpful. Other herbs such as hawthorn, cardamom, and celery seed are also of interest for blood pressure but have no real evidence to back them up. It is critical that you talk to your doctor before trying any herbs or supplements, even if they are “natural” or “plant-based.” Herbs can have dangerous side effects, especially when combined with prescription medications, and should never be used without the supervision of a medical professional.
Cannabis has shown therapeutic effects in recent years due to the relationship it has with our endocannabinoid system (ECS). Through studies, experts say that when cannabis is first consumed through smoking, the short-term effects result in the rise of blood pressure, which reaches its peak after 10 to 15 minutes. However, experts suggest that repeated, “long-term” cannabis usage (few days to a few weeks) is associated with lower heart rates and lower blood pressure (straight after cannabis consumption). The only issue regarding this is that this particular study involved smoking cannabis, rather than healthier alternative methods.
Because people who suffer from high blood pressure rarely have symptoms, regular medical visits and blood pressure checks are the best way to make sure that your blood pressure stays in the healthy range.