Wednesday, January 13, 2010

High Blood Pressure

Main complications of persistent high blood pr...Image via Wikipedia
I am on medication for high blood pressure. I have been on it now for about a year. To be honest, I thought that I would be on it much earlier than that. My mother has been on blood pressure medication since she was in her 30's.

There are a number of risk factors for developing high blood pressure, or hypertension. There are a number of factors that can put you in a high risk class, some you can control, some you can't.

Those factors that you can not control include race (blacks are more prone to high blood pressure), age, and family history. As I said, my mother developed hypertension in her 30's and I am in my late 40's, so I have two out of the three risk factors there.

There are a lot more factors that you can control, but it isn't easy. I won't list all of the factors, but some of the strikes against me are being overweight, not as active as I used to be, stress, too much alcohol, and too much salt. It is not that I put salt in my food, but I do eat a lot of processed foods which contain a lot of sodium.

The bad thing about hypertension is that often there are no symptoms. That is why it is often referred to as a silent killer. Left undiagnosed, and therefore untreated, can have devastating consequences. Among the possible conditions that hypertension can lead to are damage to the arteries, aneurysms, heart failure, heart attack and stroke.

One of the reasons that I decided to post about this particular subject is that we had a recent close call in the extended Dickster family.  Over the holidays, somebody we knew suffered an aortic dissection.  Fortunately, they were able to call 911 and get treatment, but it was close.  This person suffers from hypertension but failed to take their medication, so they did not have the disease under control.  They are currently recovering and improving but still has a ways to go.

So my admonition to everyone is to check your blood pressure on a regular basis.  There are enough automatic blood pressure machines in the grocery stores and drug stores that you can stop and check it now and then.  See your doctor and get checked, especially if you have any of the risk factors.  And for goodness sake, if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and put on medication, PLEASE TAKE YOUR MEDICATION.  Your life depends on it.

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