High Blood Pressure, a Silent Killer
By: Mia Wilchcombe, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? You’ve probably been asked this question in the past and most people would respond with: “Yes, it does make a sound.” Sound waves are created regardless if there is anyone around to acknowledge them.
However, what if we directed this question towards something millions of Americans are dealing with daily, high blood pressure. If I have high blood pressure and I can’t see or feel it, does it mean I have it? The answer is yes. Many live with a philosophy of “out of sight, out of mind” or “don’t fix something that is not broken.” High blood pressure is a silent killer, placing it on the back burner can lead to serious consequences.
A silent killer is defined as a disease that has no obvious symptoms. It indicates a condition that may progress to advanced stages before it is realized. Therefore, it is possible to walk around with a disease such as high blood pressure and never see actual symptoms until you show signs of a heart attack, stroke or kidney disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 out every 3 adults have high blood pressure. High blood pressure or hypertension increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, which are the leading causes of death in the United States.
It is important to know the facts about high blood pressure. To start, you may ask your healthcare professional if you are at risk. Several factors can increase the likelihood of the development of high blood pressure. These can include family history, age, sex, race or ethnicity, and lifestyle. African American often develop high blood pressure at an earlier age than whites and Hispanics. For adults younger than 45 years old, high blood pressure affects more men than women. However, for people 65 years old or older, high blood pressure affects more women than men.
What Can You Do About Your Blood Pressure?
For those that are diagnosed with prehypertension or high blood pressure, treatment options may include medications and most importantly, lifestyle modifications. Eating a healthful diet rich in fruits and vegetables, quitting smoking, and being physical activity a few days a week can help to reduce your risk. It is also important to check your blood pressure regularly and to follow up with your healthcare provider.
If you are at risk, or having trouble controlling your blood pressure, contact our office to register for one of our classes on the subject. UF/IFAS factsheets provide more information on what you need to know about blood pressure.