There are a lot of myths out there about high blood pressure. And because roughly 85 million adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure (about one in three), it’s time we learned a little more because what we don’t know about high blood pressure can be detrimental to our health. Here are some facts about high blood pressure everyone needs to know.
1. High blood pressure can kill you
If not managed properly, the impact of high blood pressure can be deadly. This condition can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says are two of the leading causes of death among Americans. Even a small increase in blood pressure has been linked to an increased risk of death and heart failure among some ethnicities, the American Heart Association reports. Those under the age of 60 also have an increased risk of death.
2. You can have high blood pressure and not know it
High blood pressure usually doesn’t have any symptoms. In fact, nearly one in six adults aren’t even aware they have it. This is why high blood pressure is sometimes referred to as “the silent killer.” It’s very important to visit your doctor regularly so you can have your blood pressure checked.
3. Lack of sleep can raise your risk
Are you getting enough sleep? If not, you could be putting yourself at risk for developing high blood pressure. Not getting enough shut-eye could even make an existing blood pressure issue worse. And it’s possible consistently sleeping for fewer than six hours each night could raise your blood pressure, writes Dr. Sheldon G. Sheps in his Mayo Clinic column. You could also put yourself as risk for diabetes and early mortality, WebMD says.
4. Your diet matters
If you are at risk for high blood pressure or already have it, your diet could make a big difference. A diet high in salt could lead to higher blood pressure, for example, so make sure to cut back. Adding fresh fruit and vegetables and eating lean meats is also a good idea. Bananas are a particularly great choice. They’ve been linked to cardiovascular benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and improving overall heart health. Here are some delicious banana recipes to help you get started.
5. Treating high blood pressure can break the bank
High blood pressure can have a negative impact on your personal finances. Why? High blood pressure treatment costs the nation about $46 billion each year. The combined costs of high blood pressure treatment include medications used to treat the disease and missed work days.
When to see a doctor
Although high blood pressure usually does not cause a patient to experience noticeable symptoms, there are some things you should watch for. See your doctor immediately if you start to notice anything unusual. If your blood pressure reaches a life-threatening level, you might become short of breath, have chest pain, develop a severe headache, have a nose bleed, or develop vision changes, nephrologist George Thomas tells AARP.
If you or a loved one was recently diagnosed with high blood pressure, it will be important to educate yourself. Learn as much as you can about how to take good care of your body. Here are some helpful resources to help you along your journey.
- The American Heart Association
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Mayo Clinic on High Blood Pressure
- Blood Pressure Down: The 10-Step Plan to Lower Your Blood Pressure in 4 Weeks–Without Prescription Drugs
- High Blood Pressure for Dummies