One of the most common tests people undergo is a blood pressure check. In fact, blood pressure screenings are so popular that many drug stores and supermarkets have convenient kiosks that allow people to get a blood pressure reading.
Despite the fact that this test is so common, many people don’t really know a lot about their blood pressure. For instance, did you know that high blood pressure puts you at a higher risk for developing dementia?
In this blog, the providers at Generations Family Practice in Cary, North Carolina, share their insights on high blood pressure to help you gain a better understanding of the role blood pressure plays in your overall health.
Why a healthy blood pressure matters
In a very real way, blood pressure is at the heart of the healthy functioning of every system in your body. In order for every cell, tissue, and organ to function optimally, they must get nutrient-rich blood.
But that only happens if there’s sufficient pressure in your arteries and veins to circulate oxygenated blood to the tissues and organs. The rub is that this all needs to happen without making your heart work too hard.
When your provider takes your blood pressure, the results show the force your blood exerts on the wall of your arteries. The results are displayed in two parts: Systolic pressure — the top number — shows the pressure against the walls of your arteries every time your heart beats, and diastolic pressure — the bottom number — shows the force on the walls of your arteries between heartbeats.
A reading of less than 120 (systolic pressure) and less than 80 (diastolic pressure) is considered to be a normal blood pressure. Any reading of 130 or higher (systolic pressure) or a reading of 80 or higher (diastolic pressure), is considered to be high blood pressure, which means there’s excessive pressure on the walls of your arteries.
If left untreated, high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels or cause a life-threatening issue, such as a heart attack, heart disease, or stroke.
High blood pressure may have no noticeable symptoms
If you’re among the 116 million Americans who suffer from high blood pressure, chances are you received your diagnosis from your doctor or health care provider. Consider yourself fortunate to know, because now you have the opportunity to get your condition under control.
Remarkably, one out of every three people with high blood pressure don’t know they have it. The biggest reason for this is that high blood pressure — nicknamed the silent killer — rarely has outward symptoms. For many people, they only find out they have the condition when they seek treatment for a secondary complication, such as leg weakness, headaches, or stubborn leg sores that won’t heal.
High blood pressure affects the young and old
Another thing you may not know about high blood pressure is that it doesn’t discriminate by age. Although blood pressure generally increases with age, it isn’t something that just happens to older adults.
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in four adults aged 20-44 has high blood pressure. And, as if that wasn’t astounding enough, high blood pressure is the No. 1 cause of stroke, which has been rising among younger adults for the past three decades.
Get regular blood pressure screenings and an annual physical
Whether high blood pressure runs in your family or not, getting regular screenings is a great preventive strategy. If you don’t already do so, make it a point to schedule an annual physical with your doctor. Among other things, these exams will keep track of your blood pressure, and if any issues arise, your doctor can address these matters before they become life-threatening.
If you have concerns about your blood pressure, or if you have any other health care needs, call 919-752-3714 or book an appointment online with Generations Family Practice today.