The Silent Killer


High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because people often do not show any symptoms, but the longer their blood pressure goes unmanaged, the greater chance they’ll have of a heart attack or stroke.

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a common condition that affects the body’s arteries. The force of the blood pushing against the artery walls is consistently too high, which makes the heart work harder to pump blood. Untreated high blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other serious health problems.

Over time, high blood pressure can cause damage to arteries throughout the body. Undetected or uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to:

  • Heart attack: Damaged arteries can become blocked and prevent blood flow to the heart muscle.
  • Stroke: Blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the brain can become blocked or burst.
  • Heart failure: Working harder can cause the heart to enlarge and make it harder to supply blood to the body.
  • Kidney disease or failure: Damaged arteries around the kidneys affect their ability to filter blood effectively.
  • Vision loss: Strained or damaged blood vessels in the eyes can affect vision.
  • Sexual dysfunction: Artery damage can lead to erectile dysfunction in men and may contribute to lower libido in women.
  • Angina: High blood pressure can lead to heart disease including microvascular disease. Angina, or chest pain, is a common symptom.
  • Peripheral artery disease: Atherosclerosis caused by high blood pressure can lead to narrowed arteries in the legs, arms, stomach, and head, causing pain or fatigue. Stress can have a change on your blood pressure – and you may not even know it. We experience two types of stress: acute stress and chronic stress. Both can cause your blood pressure to go up but have different long-term effects. Acute stress is temporary stress caused by a specific event. When we experience acute stress, our bodies respond by increasing our heart rate and activating the sympathetic nervous system, which can temporarily raise our blood pressure. These symptoms ease up when the stressor is removed.

It’s normal for your blood pressure to experience changes throughout the day, and your body can adjust well to it. Temporary increases in blood pressure aren’t as concerning as chronically elevated blood pressure.

Medical researchers are still studying the physiological effects of chronic stress on blood pressure, but we do know that chronic stress can affect our lifestyle.

Unhealthy lifestyle habits like eating a diet with fewer healthy choices, getting poor or not enough sleep, not exercising, smoking, or alcohol and substance abuse can lead to chronically higher blood pressure and a higher risk for cardiovascular health concerns

All of these habits can lead to higher blood pressure and increase your risk of stroke or other heart issues.

So what can you do?

1.Know your numbers. Get your blood pressure checked. If you’re concerned, talk to your primary healthcare provider.

2.Understand the symptoms and risks. What are your risk factors for high blood pressure and serious medical conditions?

3.Make meaningful changes. We can all take steps to manage our blood pressure. Make heart- healthy lifestyle changes, take any medication as prescribed, and share any questions or concerns with your primary care provider.

4.Find ways to manage stress. Be open to trying new techniques and finding out what works for you.

Being in the health and wellness field for over 25 years, I’ve
had the opportunity to educate many people with high blood pressure. After lifestyle changes or medication, I frequently hear, “I didn’t know how bad I felt until I felt good.” Please take your blood pressure results seriously. If you don’t do it for yourself, do

it for those who care about you!

By Jenny L. Workman