High blood pressure (or hypertension) is one of the most common medical problems in the United States, affecting about half of all American adults, according to the CDC. Yet, they say only a quarter of those diagnosed with hypertension have the condition under control, leaving them at risk for serious medical events. That’s pretty startling, considering hypertension significantly increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and even death.
As a leading cardiology practice in Glendale, Arizona, Phoenix Heart PLLC provides state-of-the-art care for hypertension, helping women and men reduce their risk and enjoy better health. Part of that care includes educating patients on the signs of severe hypertension, a potentially life-threatening complication that requires immediate medical care.
Risk factors for hypertension
Hypertension tends to occur more as we get older, but age is just one risk factor for high blood pressure. Other risk factors include:
- Diet high in sodium
- Diet high in unhealthy fats
- Leading a sedentary life
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Family history of hypertension, heart disease, or diabetes
Certain medications can also increase your risk for high blood pressure, and males and African Americans are also at greater risk.
One of the problems with hypertension is that in most people, it causes no symptoms until a serious medical event occurs. That means you could have high blood pressure and not even know it. In fact, hypertension is so hard to spot on your own, it’s often called “the silent killer.”
Signs and symptoms of severe hypertension
On the other hand, severe hypertension often does cause symptoms, and if you know what to look for, they’re almost unmistakable. In fact, knowing these signs and symptoms can play an important part in making sure you get medical help right away. Those symptoms can include:
- Feeling light-headed
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations or rapid heartbeat
- Nose bleeds
- Shortness of breath
- Significant anxiety or “jitters”
Severe hypertension always requires prompt medical evaluation. When hypertension is exceptionally severe and ongoing, it’s called a hypertensive crisis, and it can quickly lead to organ damage, heart attack, stroke, and death.
However, even severe hypertension doesn’t always cause major symptoms (a condition called asymptomatic severe hypertension). In those cases, the only indication you might have that your blood pressure is dangerously high is with a blood pressure reading.
That’s why having routine in-office screenings is very important for managing your blood pressure over time. Using a blood pressure cuff at home can also be helpful in monitoring day-to-day variations in your pressure. Our team can help you decide if a home blood pressure cuff is right for you.
Keep your blood pressure in check
Hypertension is a significant modifiable risk factor for heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and death. The key word here is modifiable. That means with proper medical care and a few lifestyle changes, you can actually reduce your risk for these and other serious complications.
Make 2021 the year of a healthier you and a healthier future. If you have hypertension, schedule an office visit to learn how our team can help you reduce your risk and stay healthy for years to come.