Health professionals don’t call high blood pressure the “silent killer” for no reason. Yes, high blood pressure (hypertension) is asymptomatic in most cases, but it’s far from benign. Having high blood pressure — even when only slightly elevated — increases your risk of chronic disease exponentially.
If left untreated, high blood pressure causes your arteries to slowly, silently narrow and become damaged until they become so beat up that your heart works so hard it reaches failure. Thankfully, hypertension is one of the easiest chronic conditions to treat with lifestyle interventions like diet and exercise, especially in young people. There are also a number of medications to help keep blood pressure under control if lifestyle prescriptions don’t cut it.
Here, our team of physicians and nurses at Advance Medical Group in New Jersey outline the dangers of untreated high blood pressure, as well as how they can successfully treat it.
6 major risks of ignoring high blood pressure
This list of hypertension risks isn’t exhaustive (there are many more comorbidities to high blood pressure) — they are, however, possibilities to be taken seriously.
1. Coronary artery disease
Coronary artery disease (CAD) involves the narrowing and damaging of your arteries that deliver blood, oxygen, and nutrients to your heart. High blood pressure can damage your coronary arteries, which can makes it difficult for your heart to pump blood through them. Over time, the damage may lead to chest pain, irregular heartbeats, or a heart attack.
An aneurysm occurs when a bulge forms in a weakened artery. It develops when the constant pressure of blood flowing through the weak or damaged artery becomes too much. Usually, high blood pressure leads to an aortic aneurysm versus a brain aneurysm. If an aneurysm ruptures, you may suffer life-threatening internal bleeding.
3. Heart failure
This one’s pretty self-explanatory: Heart failure means your heart stops working. With high blood pressure, your heart works harder than it normally would have to, and over time, it becomes less efficient and begins to fail.
4. Kidney failure
Your kidneys filter out waste from your blood and excess fluid from your body (this comes out of your body as urine). Your kidneys are also largely responsible for balancing the electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, in your body. If high blood pressure damages the blood vessels of your kidneys, waste and fluid accumulate in your body — if it gets bad enough, you may need a lifetime of dialysis or a kidney transplant.
People suffer strokes when a portion of their brain becomes deprived of oxygen and nutrients. High blood pressure can potentially cause a stroke if blood vessels in the brain become too weak or rupture, or if blood clots form in brain blood vessels.
Similar to stroke, high blood pressure may lead to dementia if there is a lack of blood delivered to the brain. This type of dementia — vascular dementia — has different symptoms depending on what part of your brain was deprived of blood, but typical symptoms include loss of memory, confusion, reduced ability to solve problems, and more.
Get checked for high blood pressure
You should get your blood pressure monitored at least once a year by your primary care provider, but preferably more if any of the following apply to you:
- You are overweight or obese
- You have type 2 diabetes
- You have sleep apnea
- You are not physically active and/or don’t eat a healthy diet
- You have a history of high stress levels
- Your family has a history of high blood pressure
Scheduling a regular adult wellness exam helps you and our team be proactive rather than reactive, and opens the floor for catching any diagnoses, including hypertension, early — and early diagnosis is the key to successful treatment.
If you do get diagnosed with high blood pressure, our team works with you on a treatment plan to get it under control. Your doctor may prescribe lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, exercise regimen, stress-relief tactics, and more. If your blood pressure is already very high, you may need a temporary prescription for medication.
If you haven’t had your blood pressure checked in a while, come on over to Advance Medical Group in New Jersey. Find the location nearest you and give us a call or book your appointment online.