It’s often called “the silent killer” because the effects of high blood pressure occur when you least expect them and can quickly turn fatal. A life-threatening situation as the result of high blood pressure typically comes without obvious symptoms or warning signs that your life is in danger. Dr. Rajesh Sam Suri, a leading cardiologist and internal medicine specialist in the Bay Area, wants you to know how high blood pressure can affect your health.
What high blood pressure means
Your blood pressure numbers consist of an upper number (the systolic pressure) and a lower number (diastolic pressure). Each of these numbers has a healthy range as well as an elevated range. The American Heart Association recommends that your blood pressure should be less than 120 (systolic) and less than 80 (diastolic) for it to be in the normal, healthy range.
If your blood pressure is 120-129 (systolic) and less than 80 (diastolic), it means you have elevated blood pressure. And, if your blood pressure is 130-139 over 80-89, you have the first stages of hypertension. If your blood pressure is higher than 140 over 90, you have stage 2 hypertension, and anytime your blood pressure is higher than 180 over 120, it’s considered a crisis situation that requires immediate medical attention.
Left untreated, stage 1 or stage 2 hypertension can lead to serious health complications because of the constant high pressure of blood traveling through your veins. Eventually, this pressure damages your arteries and potentially causes health problems in other systems in your body.
From sexual dysfunction to vision problems
The effects of high blood pressure are often silent — and all-encompassing. In fact, nearly every system in your body may be negatively affected if you ignore high blood pressure for too long. Symptoms can manifest as issues with nearly any part of your body, from sexual dysfunction to vision problems.
Left untreated, high blood pressure can damage your:
- Reproductive organs
Over time, high blood pressure creates a “domino effect” in damaging your organs, which leads to a host of serious health issues. For example, when hypertension affects your arteries and blood vessels, you may suffer a stroke because a blood vessel in your brain gets clogged and bursts. Or, when high blood pressure causes your heart to enlarge, keeping it from sending an adequate blood supply to the rest of your body, you can suffer heart failure.
When high blood pressure damages arteries, it can block blood flow and often leads to a heart attack. In some cases, men and women with high blood pressure suffer from sexual dysfunction as well. For men, hypertension can lead to erectile dysfunction because of constricted or poor blood flow to the genitals. Women may experience a lower libido, vaginal dryness, and difficulty achieving orgasm as a result of poor blood flow to the genitals also.
Left untreated, high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels that supply blood to your eyes, especially your retina. If this happens, you may experience bleeding in your eyes, blurred vision, or complete vision loss. Additionally, you can get fluid buildup under your retina as a result of a leaky blood vessel. Finally, you can suffer nerve damage, or optic neuropathy — a condition in which blocked blood flow from clogged arteries and blood vessels severely damages your optic nerve.
High blood pressure can lead to kidney failure
In order for your kidneys to do their job of eliminating excess fluid and waste from your body, they depend on healthy blood vessels. When high blood pressure damages the blood vessels in your kidneys or the ones leading to them, your kidneys can’t function properly. As a result, you may suffer from kidney failure.
You can also have an aneurysm — a bulge in the wall of a blood vessel — in the arteries that lead to your kidneys. An aneurysm can rupture and quickly become a life-threatening situation.
What you can do to control high blood pressure before it’s too late
Know your risks for hypertension, practice healthy habits, and have your blood pressure checked regularly to prevent a serious health situation. If you have a family history of hypertension, are African-American, or are obese, you are at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure.
Other risk factors like eating a fatty, high-sodium diet, drinking too much alcohol, or being under too much stress can contribute to high blood pressure. The good news is that you can control many of these risk factors with a healthier lifestyle and good eating habits.
The sooner you take action against developing hypertension, the better off you’ll be in protecting yourself from a dire situation. If it’s been awhile since you’ve had your blood pressure checked, or to learn more about preventing or managing high blood pressure, call either West Coast Medicine and Cardiology location in Fremont or Hayward, California. You can also use the online booking tool to schedule an exam.