High blood pressure often goes untreated. It doesn’t really cause any symptoms until something serious happens. High blood pressure can lead to a stroke, heart disease, and heart failure.
Getting your blood pressure checked regularly is something you can and should do for yourself. You can book an appointment with your doctor, or you can monitor your blood pressure at self-serve stations located in most pharmacies. Your blood pressure reading should fall between the normal range listed — usually at or below 120/80 (systolic/diastolic).
If you are over the age of 35, or if you or your family have a history of high blood pressure or heart or kidney problems, you should monitor your blood pressure for the following reasons:
- Anyone can develop high blood pressure. There are many things that can raise your blood pressure. Just being over the age of 55 increases your risk for this condition. Men are more likely to develop high blood pressure, as are African Americans. Smoking increases your risk, as does an inactive lifestyle with little or no exercise. Being overweight can lead to blood pressure readings that are higher than normal.
- There is also a number of dietary risk factors that lead to high blood pressure levels, such as salt intake. Certain drugs and medications can increase your blood pressure. And finally, medical conditions that affect your kidneys, such as diabetes, can raise blood pressure levels. This is because the kidneys are regulators of long-term blood pressure.
If you find that you do have high blood pressure, make sure you take the diagnosis seriously. A recent study suggests that, for those who are over the age of 80, treating high blood pressure means directly reducing the chance for having a stroke or heart failure, and/or dying from cardiovascular disease.
A team of researchers treated 3,845 people with high blood pressure with either a diuretic or a placebo. After two years of therapy, blood pressure among the patients taking the diuretic was significantly lower than among those receiving the placebo.
The rate of stroke was reduced 30% in the diuretic group compared to the placebo group. There was also a whopping 64% drop in the rate of heart failure among patients receiving the diuretic.
Make sure you visit your doctor if you haven’t had your blood pressure checked recently. It’s a painless test and could save you from suffering through some pretty serious complications.