High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is the most common chronic medical condition in adults ages sixty-five and older. In fact, most older adults — 58 percent — are currently being treated for hypertension in the US.
What Is Hypertension?
In hypertension, bloods flows through the blood vessels too quickly. This increases the amount of work your heart needs to do, and damages the tissue inside the arteries.
What Causes Hypertension?
There are several risk factors for hypertension, including some which cannot be controlled. For example. A family history of the condition, increasing age, and being male all increase the risk of hypertension. Some risk factors, however can be controlled. These include:
- Smoking, including exposure to secondhand smoke
- High cholesterol
- Physical inactivity
The following disorders also contribute to hypertension:
- Kidney Disease
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
How Can I Tell If I Have Hypertension?
Hypertension is known as a “silent killer” because you cannot feel the rush of blood through your veins. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked — regularly.
Is Hypertension Dangerous?
Yes. Hypertension damages your arteries, your heart, your brain, your kidneys, and your eyes. Approximately half of people with untreated hypertension will die of heart disease. Another third will die of stroke.
How Can I Treat Hypertension?
Treatment of hypertension is multi-pronged, and includes addressing the risk factors noted above. Reducing your sodium intake is also important for hypertension control. Your healthcare provider may also recommend one or more of a variety of medications, depending on the severity of your hypertension and whether you have any other health conditions.
You may need to see your healthcare provider every month until your blood pressure comes under control.