Throughout the day, your blood pressure can rise and fall based on your activities. But when it stays abnormally high for too long — a condition called hypertension — it can cause health problems, including heart damage.
Because hypertension has no symptoms, tens of millions of Americans have the condition without knowing it. Nearly half of American adults have hypertension — which is indicated by a systolic blood pressure of 130 or greater mm Hg (higher number) or a diastolic blood pressure of 80 or more mm Hg (lower number) — or are taking medication for hypertension, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Risk Factors for Hypertension
Healthcare consumers should be aware of several factors that often accompany or contribute to hypertension. They include:
• Family history of heart disease
• High cholesterol
• Chronic kidney disease
• Peripheral arterial disease
• A history of preeclampsia (women)
• Congenital heart disease in childhood
When hypertension is appropriately treated, a person can reduce their chances of an untimely death. It is recommended that all adults over the age of 20 should regularly monitor their blood pressure.
You Have Hypertension — Now What?
Before you visit a cardiologist, it’s advised that you first learn how to check your blood pressure and keep a daily log of measurements. This information is crucial because your physician will be able to better determine if you do have hypertension, what stage it is in and what kind of treatment is required.
One tremendous benefit to getting your high blood pressure under control is that it also impacts your heart health. The latest guidelines from The American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) provide clear recommendations about how to diagnose and treat hypertension, and how to determine your level of cardiovascular risk.
Early Detection and Management
Evidence shows that adequate management of high blood pressure will improve your survival and decrease risk of cardiovascular disease, which may cause death or other disabling and debilitating conditions, such as stroke. Unfortunately, we often see patients too late, after the damage is already done.
An early visit to a cardiologist who can assess risk and give recommendations for heart-healthy lifestyle modifications or controlling other medical problems (such as diabetes) will definitely impact your long-term health status, quality of life and survival. The bottom line is that early detection and appropriate medical treatment of hypertension should be sought out early, especially since the condition can be such a silent one.
Scientific Leaps Improve Outcomes
Thanks to scientific and technological advances made over the last 20 years, we have developed multiple resources for reducing cardiovascular disease and its greatest risk factors. These tools help us in the medical field to better prevent, diagnose and treat cardiovascular problems that we were unable to manage years ago. It’s allowed us to improve survival and overall quality of life.