Nearly half of adults in the United States live with high blood pressure. While statistics like that are enough to frighten even the healthiest among us, the number of people who have high blood pressure is actually its least daunting aspect.
What’s most concerning about high blood pressure rarely comes with side effects, so it often goes undetected until it’s too late.
Your risk for heart problems goes up
The main concern with high blood pressure is its impact on your cardiovascular system. Over time, high blood pressure damages the walls of your arteries, making them more likely to develop plaque buildup. Plaque can block your arteries or cause them to narrow. This puts you at an increased risk for heart attacks, aneurysms, peripheral artery disease (PAD), and stroke.
Additionally, the deposits of plaque can lead to blood clots. Blood clots travel through your bloodstream and block blood flow to your heart or brain, which can trigger a heart attack or stroke.
You’re at risk for heart failure
To accommodate the higher pressure in your vessels, your heart works overtime to pump blood around your body. This causes the walls of your heart to thicken, making it more difficult for your heart to meet your body’s demands. Eventually, your heart fails.
You may develop chest pain
Many people with high blood pressure also experience chest pain, known as angina. You may notice pressure or a squeezing pain when walking uphill, going up stairs, or performing other exercises.
You could damage your kidneys
High blood pressure doesn’t just damage the arteries surrounding your heart — it also impacts arteries that lead to your kidneys. Over time, weak arteries interfere with your kidney’s ability to function properly.
Your vision could suffer
You guessed it: Weak, damaged arteries can also impact your eyesight. High blood pressure can damage the small blood vessels in your eyes. Furthermore, it can put pressure on your optic nerve. If you don’t get high blood pressure under control, you could develop permanent vision loss.
You may notice changes in your sex life
There’s also a link between high blood pressure and sexual dysfunction: It can cause low libido in women and erectile dysfunction in men.
You could struggle with memory loss
Narrow or blocked arteries that keep blood from flowing freely to your brain could result in difficulty with memory and focus, and in the worst cases, lead to dementia.
What are my treatment options?
Though the potential complications from high blood pressure are frightening, a variety of available treatment options provide hope.
Establishing healthy habits can help you start to manage high blood pressure. A heart-healthy diet that’s low in sodium, regular physical activity, and limited alcohol consumption all help to keep your blood pressure at optimum levels.
Depending on your measurements and overall health, you may also benefit from medication.
If you’re worried about your blood pressure and need help managing it, don’t wait. Visit any of our three conveniently located offices or give us a call to talk to our experienced staff.