Identifying High Blood Pressure Symptoms, and Risks Associated with It

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is one of the most widespread health ailments seen in people of both genders as they get older. It’s believed to affect 1 in every 3 adults over 20 in America. What makes it such a major risk is the fact that there’s usually a lack of any high blood pressure symptoms; nearly 20% of those affected are unaware that they have it.

High blood pressure involves excess amounts of force being exerted against artery walls as blood flows through them. Some force and pressure is natural and seen in the healthiest of people, but too much of it can lead to more serious health complications.

For most people ideal blood pressure is 140/90, while diabetics should aim for less than 130/80. These # over # readings are for systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Risk of heart-related diseases and death doubles with 20mm Hg increase is systolic blood pressure (first number in the reading - 140/90) and 10mm Hg increase in diastolic blood pressure (second number – 140/90).

The additional risks that come with high blood pressure and high blood pressure symptoms are stroke, vision loss, kidney disease, metabolic syndrome, memory trouble and dementia.

‘Silent Killer’ – Lack of High Blood Pressure Symptoms for Most

Most people do not show high blood pressure symptoms, and for that reason it’s a particularly dangerous health condition because if left untreated it can put people at risk of developing life-threatening conditions. For some people who have extremely high blood pressure (malignant hypertension), they might experience rarer high blood pressure symptoms like headaches, dizziness, nosebleeds, vision changes, or blood in the urine.

As for what causes high blood pressure, it’s important to first distinguish the two types of high blood pressure, and note that high blood pressure symptoms will onset differently for each. The two types are:

Essential high blood pressure there is no identifiable cause for 90 to 95% of adults diagnosed with essential high blood pressure, and essential hypertension symptoms typically develops gradually over a number of years. Excessive sodium consumption in the diet is a primary cause of essential high blood pressure. Sodium promotes retention of fluid in the body and this increases the workload on the heart.

Secondary high blood pressure – There is usually an underlying condition behind a person’s secondary high blood pressure, and the secondary hypertension symptoms come on more suddenly as compared to essential high blood pressure. They also result in higher blood pressure than primary (essential) high blood pressure.

What Causes High Blood Pressure

The fact that most people don’t display any identifiable high blood pressure symptoms makes it important to be able to understand if you’re someone who’s more at risk. If you can determine that you are a person who’s more at risk, you’ll be more inclined to see your physician to have your blood pressure tested.

Your age, family history, ethnic background, body weight, medication use, sodium in diet, stress levels and alcohol abuse can all play a role in whether or not you develop hypertension. When you are over the age of 40 it is recommended to have your blood pressure checked once a year. African-Americans are at the greatest risk of high blood pressure, and researchers believe that it may be because they are more genetically predisposed to sodium sensitivity.

Individuals who consume more than 1500mg of sodium a day are at greater risk, as are people who have chronic stress exposure. Being 10lbs or more overweight according to your ideal body weigh as per your BMI (body mass index) makes you a more likely candidate for developing high blood pressure.

Medications that can promote high blood pressure when used long-term include non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), steroids, diet pill, birth control pills, and some pain killer medications and anti-depressants. Consuming alcohol in excess of the guidelines laid out by the American Heart Association (no more than 2 drinks a day for men, 1 for women) can result in a greater likelihood of seeing hypertension symptoms.

Role of Underlying Health Conditions

Secondary high blood pressure is easily the most common of the two, and more often than not there are underlying health conditions that lead to it developing in an individual. Underlying conditions that can lead to secondary hypertension include:

  • Diabetes complications (diabetic nephropathy)
  • Hydronephrosis
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Renovascular hypertension
  • Aldosteronism
  • Pheochromocytoma
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Sleep apnea
  • Aorta coarctation
  • Obesity
  • Medications and Supplements
  • Preeclampsia

How to Lower Blood Pressure

Making smart lifestyle and diet choices is a good way to prevent high blood pressure, and especially so since there are no readily-identifiable high blood pressure symptoms that could easily tip you off to the fact you’ve developed the condition. As mentioned, if you are over 40 you should have your blood pressure tested once a year while making better decisions about your diet, lifestyle, and stress management techniques.

Smart choices include a diet that is low in sodium (experts estimate that 30% of all high blood pressure is caused by consuming too much salt), regular exercise, limited intake of alcohol and caffeine, maintaining a healthier body weight, and avoiding smoking

More specifically, you should engage in vigorous exercise for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Next, increase levels of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products in your diet (look into the DASH diet). More and better sleep is also helpful, as is learning and implementing effective stress management techniques.

One last recommendation here for avoiding high blood pressure symptoms is if you are using blood pressure lowering medications it is best to take them at the same time every day. Also, do not double doses if you miss one.