February is about more than love notes, roses, and candy hearts — it’s also American Heart Month: a time dedicated to promoting awareness and education about ways to live a heart-healthy life.
Nearly half of all American adults are living with high blood pressure, also called hypertension. It’s extremely common, but it also demands to be taken seriously. High blood pressure poses severe risks to your cardiovascular health, and now’s the time to learn more.
Kunal Patel, MD, and our team at NJ Cardiovascular Institute specialize in heart health, and we serve patients at our offices in Elizabeth, Lakewood, Paramus, and Secaucus, New Jersey. And this month, we’re taking a closer look at the dangers of high blood pressure and what you can do to stay healthier.
High blood pressure: understanding the silent threat
When your heart pumps blood through your body, the blood puts pressure against the walls of your veins. A small amount of pressure is essential for blood to reach all the corners of your body, but a high blood pressure diagnosis means the pressure is consistently too high.
Elevated blood pressure is dangerous because it can damage your arteries, leading to a myriad of health problems. Unfortunately, high blood pressure rarely causes noticeable symptoms in its early stages.
In fact, high blood pressure is often referred to as the "silent killer" because it can cause serious damage before it's detected. Some of the dangers associated with high blood pressure include:
Heart attack and stroke
High blood pressure can make your arteries harder and thicker over time. This damage makes your heart work harder to pump blood and increases your risk of having a medical emergency like a heart attack or stroke.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Persistent high blood pressure can contribute to conditions like coronary artery disease and heart failure, because the increased workload on your heart can weaken it over time.
Your kidneys help regulate blood pressure by managing the balance of fluids in your body. Hypertension can damage the arteries around your kidneys, affecting their ability to function properly. This damage may lead to kidney failure or lead to the need for dialysis.
The tiny blood vessels in your eyes are susceptible to damage from high blood pressure. This damage can result in vision problems or, in severe cases, lead to blindness. If you have high blood pressure, regular eye check-ups are important to monitor and address any potential issues.
Recent research has suggested a connection between high blood pressure and cognitive decline, including an increased risk of vascular dementia. The impact of hypertension on the blood vessels in your brain can hinder your ability to remember, learn, and think.
Managing high blood pressure
Left unchecked, high blood pressure poses a serious threat. But the good news is that it’s a manageable condition with the right care.
Dr. Patel and our team specialize in holistic heart care with our Heart Smart Program, and we take a multifaceted approach to blood pressure management. Depending on your unique health needs, we may recommend a combination of:
- Eating a heart-healthy diet
- Engaging in regular exercise
- Managing your weight
- Reducing stress
- Taking blood pressure medication
Understanding the dangers of high blood pressure is the first step in taking control of your cardiovascular health. Learn more and take action with an appointment at NJ Cardiovascular Institute. Call the office nearest you or send us a message online today.