Could You Be One of the Millions of Americans Who Has High Blood Pressure and Doesn't Know It?

Many serious ailments come with warning signs like a lump or pain. High blood pressure, however, can often be a "silent killer" with no symptoms.

Here at the NJ Cardiovascular Institute in Secaucus and Newark, New Jersey, Dr. Kunal Patel and our highly trained team offer state-of-the-art treatment in our friendly relaxed offices. Whether you are suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure, varicose veins, or other issues, we provide personalized care and a customized treatment plan to improve your health.

What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure readings consist of two numbers that measure the force of the blood against the artery walls. The top (systolic) number measures the force when the heart is beating, and it’s the larger of the two numbers. The bottom (diastolic) number measures the pressure when the heart is relaxed between beats. Blood pressure is considered normal when the systolic number is less than 120 and the diastolic is lower than 80.

Symptoms and statistics

Most people don’t have any symptoms of high blood pressure. Others may experience general symptoms like headaches, shortness of breath, or nosebleeds, which they often don't take seriously. It's not surprising, then, that approximately 11 million adults in the United States don’t know they have high blood pressure — and aren’t receiving treatment.

Risk factors

A number of risk factors can influence who develops high blood pressure. Aging increases the chances, with it being more common in men until their mid-60s, at which point women become more likely to see high numbers. It is also more common in people of African heritage. Genetics play a role, too.

 Lifestyle choices can also affect your risk. Being overweight, having a sedentary lifestyle, using tobacco, and drinking too much alcohol can all play a role. A poor diet, including too much salt and too little potassium, can also contribute. Stress, as well as some chronic health ailments, can also increase your risk.

Diagnosis and treatment

Given high blood pressure can lead to everything from heart attacks, strokes, and aneurysms to heart failure, vision issues, dementia, and more, it's important to know your numbers and get treatment if they are high. 

Blood pressure changes throughout the day and can also rise when you're at the doctor's office. Therefore, your reading will typically be taken two or three times at three or more separate appointments to make sure the numbers are accurate and consistent. It is measured in both arms, and your doctor may even ask you to take it at home for comparison.

If you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, improving your lifestyle habits can help, including eating a heart-healthy diet that’s low in salt, exercising regularly, losing weight if necessary, and watching your alcohol intake. If healthier habits don't bring your numbers down low enough, medications can also be discussed.

If you're not sure of your blood pressure numbers or have any other cardiology issues, contact Dr. Patel today to make sure your heart stays in the best condition possible.

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