There are three major risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Now, consider that nearly half of Americans (47%) can check that first box.
High blood pressure, which is also called hypertension, not only places you at far greater risk for potentially life-threatening heart disease, but it can also wreak havoc in other areas of your health.
As a triple board-certified interventional cardiologist, Dr. Farhad Aduli understands the risks that come with hypertension, which is why he and the team here at Louisiana Heart and Vascular pulled together the following information.
Understanding high blood pressure
It’s hard to miss the messaging about the dangers of high blood pressure, but it’s helpful to step back and understand what it means.
Blood pressure is the amount of pressure that your blood is placing on your arterial walls. When we measure your blood pressure, we measure two things:
- The pressure on your arterial walls during a heartbeat, which is your systolic pressure
- The pressure on your arterial walls in between beats, or your diastolic pressure
When you receive your blood pressure reading, there are two numbers: Systolic is the top number, and diastolic is the bottom number. Any reading that’s 130/80 or higher is considered high blood pressure.
The dangers of high blood pressure
When you have high blood pressure, over time, the extra pressure on your blood vessels can take a toll and lead to:
One of the issues we’re most concerned about if you have hypertension is heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the united States. Hypertension can damage your arteries when they become blocked, which can compromise blood flow to your heart. This puts you at great risk for heart attack.
As well, high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels to your brain, putting you at risk for a stroke. Lastly, if your blood vessels are damaged by hypertension, your heart needs to work harder, which can lead to heart failure.
Your kidneys filter about a half cup of blood every minute, creating urine with the waste and fluids they filter out. When you have high blood pressure, the damage to your blood vessels compromises the blood flow to these vital organs. As a result, your kidneys aren't able to filter your blood properly, which can lead to even higher blood pressure.
The blood vessels in your eyes are very fragile and sensitive, which can make them more prone to damage if you have high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for sexual health issues, such as erectile dysfunction (ED). In order to achieve an erection, you need healthy blood vessels that can deliver blood to your penis.
Outside of ED, hypertension can also decrease sexual pleasure in both men and women as sensory nerves are dulled by the lack of blood flow.
This list isn’t comprehensive by any stretch, as there are many other health complications that are linked to hypertension, but we believe that this is enough to get your attention.
Lowering your blood pressure
The good news in all of this is that there are many things that can help you lower your blood pressure, such as the following:
- Low sodium diet
- Weight loss
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing alcohol
To see what your blood pressure is, and to get a treatment plan if it’s high, book an appointment online or over the phone with Louisiana Heart and Vascular today. We’re located in Covington and Franklinton, Louisiana, and we also serve patients from Mandeville, Hammond, and Slidell.