High blood pressure, or hypertension is called the silent killer because people who suffer from the condition often have no symptoms whatsoever, but it leads to potentially serious health issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three adults in the United States suffer from high blood pressure.
A simple explanation for how hypertension works is that your blood moves through your arteries at a higher pressure which puts more pressure on muscle tissues and damaging your blood vessels in the process. For an adult aged 20 and over, a blood pressure reading of 120/80 mmHg and below is considered normal. If your blood pressure readings hit 140/90 mmHg and above, you can be diagnosed with high blood pressure.
So, what are the causes of this silent killer? Unfortunately, there’s no known cause for most cases of high blood pressure, although there are certain triggers. Having medical conditions like kidney or heart conditions can lead to high blood pressure. Over-the-counter flu medicines and birth control pills can also contribute to high blood pressure. Being overweight, excessive salt, alcohol, and smoking are also known to be factors contributing to hypertension.
It’s a simple test to check whether you have high blood pressure, or are at risk of it. The doctor will measure your current blood pressure with a monitor using a cuff a few times over several appointments to get a more accurate reading. This is because your blood pressure fluctuates sometimes, depending on factors such as stress. Some other measures your doctor might take are blood and urine tests, a chest X-ray or a Computed Tomography (CT) scan to figure out the next steps. If you feel like you might have high blood pressure, consult your doctor soon.