Hypertension, or high blood pressure, occurs when the blood rushing through your blood vessels exerts more force on the artery walls than normal. Over time, the excessive pressure damages your arteries.
Blood pressure is determined by a variety of complex and interacting factors. Some of the most important are the total volume of blood being pumped through your body, the amount of resistance it meets in blood vessels along the way, and your heart rate.
Hypertension is dangerous because it causes life-threatening health problems, yet it usually doesn’t have any symptoms. If you don’t get preventive health care, hypertension can sneak up on you.
It’s easier for cholesterol to get stuck to the areas in blood vessel walls that are damaged by hypertension. Over time, the amount of cholesterol attached to the wall builds up and mixes with other substances, eventually causing plaque, which hardens and narrows the arteries. When your blood vessels reach this state, you have atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis blocks the flow of blood and increases your chance of developing:
While having a family history of high blood pressure increases your risk, the most common contributors to hypertension are avoidable, including:
While hypertension can be caused by an underlying health condition, such as obstructive sleep apnea, it’s more likely to develop over time from the ongoing impact of lifestyle factors. If you make changes to eliminate the risk factors, you may prevent high blood pressure.
The first two steps toward treating high blood pressure are dealing with underlying health conditions and changing any lifestyle risk factors that apply to you. Whether you need guidance for creating a healthy diet, tips for getting into an exercise routine that you enjoy, or possibly enrolling in a structured physical therapy program, the team at Consultants in Cardiology & Electrophysiology will help.
When conservative measures aren’t enough to get your blood pressure under control, medications may be prescribed. Your doctor at Consultants in Cardiology & Electrophysiology will consider all aspects of your health and choose the most appropriate option from a list of potential medications, such as diuretics, beta blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, and calcium channel blockers.