Hypertension or high blood pressure is known as a “silent killer.” This means that many people don’t know they have it, but they can still suffer severe consequences. Hypertension is characterized by a consistent high pressure when the blood pushes through the blood vessels. This can be caused by the walls of the arteries becoming clogged or narrower through a buildup of plaque. This buildup can be caused by a fatty, high-cholesterol diet as well as elevated sodium intake. Obesity and advanced age can be causes of hypertension, although the problem can exist among those who are relatively young and are of normal weight. Genetics plays a role in the development of hypertension, but there is no reason to be fatalistic about it; lifestyle changes such as cutting back on saturated fat, increasing exercise and reducing stress can lower blood pressure and help prevent hypertension from getting out of control. It is important for those over the age of 40 to regularly get their blood pressure tested, particularly if they have a family history of hypertension. In addition to lifestyle changes, doctors may prescribe medications to help treat hypertension.
1. High blood pressure starts in the heart and the arteries
The doctor may detect that you have high blood pressure, but by then, you may already have had an issue with your arteries for some time. Before hypertension shows up on medical exams, it begins with the arteries and the heart. Unless the arteries are viewed by medical staff, you may not realize that there is buildup forming on the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the channels of the vessels and when blood flows through them with every heartbeat, there is increased pressure. A buildup of plaque on the walls of the arteries is called atherosclerosis, which is a leading cause of hypertension.