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Don’t Wait for High Blood Pressure Symptoms

Don’t Wait for High Blood Pressure Symptoms

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“The sobering fact about high blood pressure is that it is often without symptoms until it is too late. That is, until an “end organ,” such as our brain, kidneys or heart, becomes damaged, we rarely feel it. Occasionally, some individuals with high blood pressure get headaches or blurry vision. But usually they ascribe these symptoms to stress or tension. This is how hypertension got the name “the great silent killer.” Many times the first sign that the silent killer has invaded our body is when we experience kid- ney failure, an aneurysm, a stroke or a heart attack.” — The Seven Numbers pg. 113

 

Understanding the danger of high blood pressure

Okay…so what is a healthy, normal blood pressure? It is about 115 systolic over 75 diastolic—115/75. Modern studies have shown that the high elevation of the top number and the difference between the top and the bottom number (the pulse pressure) are the best predictors of having a heart attack or stroke in people over age 50. On the other hand, the high elevation of the bottom number is the most important predictor for people under age 50.

The normal heart rate is 60 to 80 beats per minute. People who have 80 to 120 beats per minute are headed for trouble, and those who are experiencing over 120 beats per minute definitely have a problem. For every 20/10 point increase over the normal pressure of 115/75, the chance of having a heart attack or stroke doubles. If my patients have a Blood Pressure under 120/80, I am fine with it. If it is greater than 140 over 90, they have high blood pressure or hypertension and I start treating it with medicine.

When the systolic, or top, number goes up, it causes an increase in the force of blood flow in our tender, sensitive tissues, such as our brain and kidneys. This leads to damage of the blood vessels and/or the tissues themselves. Plaque may begin to build up or the blood vessel wall may thicken or hypertrophy. In the brain, this leads to multi-infarct dementia, which means a person has multiple small strokes because of inadequate blood flow to areas of the brain. In the kidneys, this leads to renal failure and eventually the need for dialysis. Overall, an increase in blood pressure results in a decrease in functioning and ultimately death of cells and tissue.

Another potential problem from a weakened arterial wall is that it may stretch and ultimately rip under the increased pressure. This is called an aneurysm. One of my patients, an executive for a large Fortune 100 firm, came to my office one day complaining of back pain. I did an exam and found no obvious problem. He had no sign of a pulled muscle or kidney stone and no significant arthritis or stomach problems. But over the course of a few days, the pain worsened. Not wanting to take any chances, we got a CAT scan of his abdomen to see what was going on. When the results came, we had our answer. The largest blood vessel in the body, the aorta, was beginning to tear. Although it was not yet critical, it was only a matter of time before it would have ripped open, and he would have died of internal hemorrhaging. That test saved his life!

The sobering fact about high blood pressure is that it is often without symptoms until it is too late. That is, until an “end organ,” such as our brain, kidneys or heart, becomes damaged, we rarely feel it. Occasionally, some individuals with high blood pressure get headaches or blurry vision. But usually they ascribe these symptoms to stress or tension. This is how hypertension got the name “the great silent killer.” Many times the first sign that the silent killer has invaded our body is when we experience kidney failure, an aneurysm, a stroke or a heart attack.

One of my greatest goals in life is to help people avoid this type of irreversible damage and live the healthy life we were meant to live. Some causes of hypertension are preventable and can be reversed. Certain tumors, kidney problems and heart conditions that lead to blood pressure elevations are correctable once we discover and address the root cause. Therefore, have your doctor look for these other conditions, checking them out with your blood work and any other tests they feel are necessary to reveal these reversible symptoms.  – The Seven Numbers pg. 113

 

 

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