Hypertension is a major cause of premature death around the world, with over one billion adults having high blood pressure globally. The team of multi-specialty providers at New York City’s CHW Cares in Washington Heights, Manhattan, encourages you to get your blood pressure checked and learn about your hypertension risks. Early detection makes it possible to treat hypertension before it causes health complications.
Hypertension is high blood pressure. Your blood pressure is a measurement of the force required for your blood to circulate throughout the body. It’s written as two numbers.
The systolic number is a representation of the pressure in blood vessels when your heart beats, and the diastolic number is the amount of pressure in the blood vessels when your heart rests between beats.
You receive a hypertension diagnosis if your systolic blood pressure reading is greater or equal to 140 mmHg or your diastolic blood pressure is greater or equal to 90 mmHg.
Hypertension can be caused by an underlying health condition, such as kidney disease, or it can develop gradually over the years because of an unhealthy lifestyle. These lifestyle factors increase your risk of hypertension:
Smoking cigarettes is one of the leading risk factors for hypertension. The chemicals in cigarettes damage artery wall linings and increase your risk for atherosclerosis.
When you have hypertension, your body works harder to push blood through your vessels, and the extra force damages arterial walls.
The rough spots caused by arterial wall damage allow cholesterol to stick to the wall, building up over time and resulting in hardened plaque and narrowed arteries (atherosclerosis). Atherosclerosis can cause coronary artery disease and peripheral artery disease.
Most people don’t know if they have hypertension unless they are tested for it because it doesn’t cause symptoms until the blood flow is so severely blocked that you experience pain. If a piece of plaque breaks loose from your arteries, it can cause a stroke, heart attack, or pulmonary embolism.
If you have hypertension, the CHW Cares team recommends lifestyle changes to decrease your risks, such as diet, exercise, reduced stress, and not smoking. You may also need medications to lower your blood pressure, depending on the severity of your hypertension.