Hypertension: The Silent Killer
A survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control found that when “adjusted for age, the 2017-2018 hypertension prevalence among adults aged 18 and over was 45.4%”1. The survey noted that hypertension increased with age, and was higher in men and among non-Hispanic black than non-Hispanic white or Hispanic.
In a 2019 CDC survey, it was concluded that more than half a million deaths in the United States had hypertension as a primary or contributing cause. Nearly half of adults in the United States (47%, or 116 million) have hypertension, defined as a systolic blood pressure greater than 130 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure greater than 80 mmHg or are taking medication for hypertension. And only about 1 in 4 adults (24%) with hypertension have their condition under control.
According to the American Heart Association, hypertension is categorized into 3 categories: Hypertension (Stage 1), Hypertension (Stage 2), and a Hypertensive Crisis2. If left untreated, uncontrolled hypertension can lead to health conditions such as a heart attack, stroke, vision loss, metabolic issues, and loss of kidney function and can impact an individual’s overall cognitive function. The uncontrolled pressures result in the thickening of vascular walls (atherosclerosis) which become less elastic. Additionally, hypertension can create weakened areas in the vascular walls called aneurysms3.
All of the previously mentioned systemic effects are then compounded by the heart's need to pump harder to overcome the ever-increasing pressures in the body’s vascular system, causing the muscle in the wall of the heart to thicken (Left Ventricular Hypertrophy). This thickening of the ventricular wall creates yet another physiologic dysfunction resulting in an inability to effectively supply blood to all the areas of the body (Heart Failure).
Uncontrolled hypertension can develop into a slow and insidious circle of cause and effect resulting in long-term health issues. By frequently monitoring your blood pressure, you can work with your healthcare provider to keep your blood pressure controlled with diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, and appropriately prescribed medications.
- Ostchega, Fryar, Nwankwo & Nguyen. (2020). Hypertension Prevalence Among Adults Aged 18 and Over: United States, 2017-2018. Retrieved 10/18/2021 from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db364.htm
- American Heart Association. (2020). Blood Pressure Categories. Retrieved 10/18/2021 from https://heart.org/bplevels
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). High Blood Pressure (Hypertension). Retrieved 10/18/2021 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373410