High blood pressure is often called the silent killer, due to the millions that have it but are unaware they do. In addition to these millions, one in three adults has been diagnosed with the disease. Whether you’ve been diagnosed or not, learning how to prevent and control high blood pressure is crucial to your health.
What is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers. The first, systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The second, diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests between beats.
Without treatment, high blood pressure, also called hypertension, can damage the heart, brain, kidneys and eyes, which may lead to serious problems such as heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. Fortunately, it is easy to detect and bring under control.
What causes high blood pressure?
No one knows the exact cause of the condition, but many factors are known to raise blood pressure including:
- Being overweight or obese
- Consuming an excess of alcohol
- Having a family history of high blood pressure
- Eating a diet high in sodium
- Getting older
How is it detected?
Your primary care doctor would typically diagnose hypertension after readings of 140/90 or higher on three or more separate occasions (usually measured within a week or two).
How is it treated?
Because no one is the same, there isn’t just one way to treat high blood pressure. Your health and family history, blood pressure status and other health conditions are all considered when finding your best treatment options.
How is it prevented?
You can prevent or delay high blood pressure by:
- Staying at a healthy weight or losing extra weight
- Eating less salt and salty foods
- Exercising regularly
- Quitting smoking
- Drinking alcohol in moderation
- Eating a diet rich in fruits, veggies and low-fat dairy products
Learn about the heart and vascular services we offer at Mercy Health.