Hypertension is a common condition in the United States. Also called high blood pressure, hypertension doesn’t usually have symptoms. That’s why it’s called a “silent killer.” The only way to know if your blood pressure is high is to have your doctor check it regularly.
“Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against vessel walls, typically recorded as two numbers written as a ratio. The top number is your systolic blood pressure. It represents the force of blood through your blood vessels when the heart beats. The bottom number is your diastolic blood pressure. It represents the force of blood through your blood vessels in between heartbeats, while your heart is relaxed. If either is consistently above normal, then take immediate action and see your doctor,” says Rohan Wagle, M.D., a Cardiology specialist at Kelsey-Seybold’s Katy Clinic, Tanglewood Clinic, and West Grand Parkway Clinic.
Common risk factors
No one knows exactly what causes hypertension. In fact, most high blood pressure cases have no known cause. Risk factors for developing high blood pressure include:
- Advancing age, especially after 55
- Excessive weight
- A family history of high blood pressure
- High dietary salt and fat
- Low intake of potassium
- Tobacco use
Possible treatment options
If you have high blood pressure, consult your primary care doctor or cardiologist to find which combination of treatments works best, given your individual health and lifestyle. Your treatment plan may include the following:
- Following the DASH eating plan: The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet plan includes eating less fat and saturated fat, as well as eating more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain food. (dashdiet.org)
- Watching your weight: Following the DASH eating plan and getting regular exercise may help you lose weight. Ask your doctor to help you determine a goal.
- Quitting tobacco: Nicotine can make blood pressure rise. It can also directly damage your heart and blood vessels.
- Taking medication: Your doctor may prescribe medication to help control your high blood pressure. Don’t skip a day or a dose. Refill your prescriptions before you run out. It might take more than one type of medicine to get to proper control of your blood pressure.
“I can’t stress enough the importance of regular doctor visits to assess your heart disease risk factors. Identifying a heart condition early gives doctors time to tailor a treatment plan and recommend lifestyle modifications,” says Dr. Wagle.
Your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, should be discussed with your doctor, as well as:
- Your family history of heart disease.
- Heart disease symptoms you may have had, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or increasing fatigue.
- How much stress you have and any symptoms of depression.
“To be confident your high blood pressure treatment plan is working, check your blood pressure as often as recommended by your doctor. Follow your treatment plan consistently and see your doctor as often as directed,” says Dr. Wagle.
To have your blood pressure and other health indicators evaluated, call 713-442-0000 to request an appointment with a Kelsey-Seybold primary care physician.