High blood pressure or hypertension puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, the leading causes of death in the United States. According to the CDC, about 75 million American adults or 1 in every 3 have hypertension.

What causes hypertension?

There is no identifiable cause for most cases of primary or essential hypertension. However, there are some factors that can increase your risk of developing hypertension. These include age, family history, obesity, tobacco smoking, and a diet high in sodium.

There are also medical conditions that can cause high blood pressure. These include obstructive sleep apnea, kidney problems, thyroid problems, and adrenal gland tumors.

What are the complications of high blood pressure?

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to a number of complications, including:

  • Aneurysm
    Uncontrolled blood pressure can cause the blood vessels to weaken and bulge, forming an aneurysm. A ruptured aneurysm is considered a medical emergency.
  • Heart attack or stroke
    Hypertension can also cause thickening and hardening of the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
  • Kidney problems
    High blood pressure can weaken and narrow the blood vessels in the kidneys, which can keep the organ from functioning well.
  • Loss of vision
    High blood pressure can also thicken, narrow, or torn blood vessels in the eyes, resulting in a loss in vision.
  • Problems with comprehension and memory
    When high blood pressure is unmanaged, you may have problems with concentration, comprehension, and memory.

What can you do if you have high blood pressure?

Our physicians at Premier Surgical Associates in Knoxville and Cleveland, TN, highly recommend that you check your blood pressure if you have a family history of hypertension, over 50, or have other factors that put you at risk of developing it.

If you already have hypertension, we highly recommend that you make necessary changes in your lifestyle to control it. Below are some of the things that can help you:

  • Quit smoking
    Quitting smoking will help your blood pressure to return to normal. On top of that, it can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health.
  • Lose weight
    If you’re overweight, losing those extra pounds can help in reducing your blood pressure. You should also keep an eye around your waist as it’s usually an indicator of your risk of heart disease.
  • Incorporate exercise in your daily activities
    Working out regularly (about 30 minutes most days of the week) can lower your blood pressure by 5 to 8 mmHg. As a start, you may want to try low-impact aerobic exercises such as walking and swimming.
  • Be mindful of what you eat
    If you have high blood pressure, your diet is one of the things you should be watchful of. An eating plan that’s rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products can help get your blood pressure to a healthy level again.
  • Reduce the sodium in your diet
    Even a small reduction of salt in your diet can make a difference.

    It helps to read product labels as some ‘healthy’ food products out there are high in sodium. You may also want to consider cooking more than eating out. Most fast food items are high in salt.

High blood pressure is a manageable condition especially if it’s detected early. So, if you suspect that you have hypertension or at risk for it, don’t hesitate to see a physician.