Hypertension can lead to hyper-problems
When I received those first extremely high blood pressure results six years ago, it wasn't due to a case of white coat syndrome. I had hypertension, and untreated, I was a candidate for serious consequences down the road, in particular atherosclerosis.
Blood pressure, according to the WebMD.com, refers to the force of blood pushing against an artery wall as it flows through the body. Atherosclerosis, commonly known as hardening of the arteries, occurs when plaque builds up where an artery has been damaged, by something like high blood pressure, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health. Left untreated, it can lead to a stroke or heart attack.
I definitely was not on a path to health.
Fortunately, that initial blood pressure test led to a prescription for a drug to control the condition. But had I not taken action, there would have been no sign that a silent killer was at work inside my body until a medical emergency occurred. Again, according to the institute, most people experience no signs or symptoms that their arteries are narrowing until they have a stroke or heart attack. For those who do, typical symptoms, which differ based upon the affected arteries, might be angina, shortness of breath, fatigue, numbness or loss of appetite.
There are a number of conditions that increase a person's risk of developing atherosclerosis. Major risk factors, besides high blood pressure, according to the institute include:
•Unhealthy blood cholesterol levels.
•Lack of physical activity.
•A family history of early heart disease.
While a medical procedure or surgery may be the ultimate treatment option, medicine or lifestyle changes may also help treat or even prevent atherosclerosis. Lifestyle changes like following a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight or increasing physical activity can go a long way toward preventing the onset of the disease. It almost goes without saying that quitting smoking and managing stress fall within the necessary lifestyle changes.
Patients with atherosclerosis should work closely with their physicians to ensure they receive the proper treatment. The doctor can also provide advice about lifestyle changes, in particular suggestions for dietary changes and maintaining a healthy weight. Consult with your physician for information about nutritious dining to support lifestyle changes.
Information about atherosclerosis is readily available on the institute's website and others such as WebMD or the Mayo Clinic, but your personal physician should be consulted regarding treatment and prevention.
With medication, my blood pressure is now in the normal range, and I'm in the process of making dietary life changes. Thanks to that initial routine medical check-up, my doctor and I became aware of my high blood pressure early on and went to work to bring it under control. I now have hope that I will not become one of the statistics to fall victim to this life-threatening disease.