Under Pressure: Prevention, Symptoms, and Treatment for Hypertension

May 8 • 2015

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a disease that affects about 80 million adults in the United States. The consequences of high blood pressure can be deadly if it is not treated, but oftentimes people are unaware that they suffer from it because symptoms are not always present.

What Should I Know About Symptoms?
A common myth is that people with high blood pressure will have symptoms like sweating, facial flushing, nervousness, and difficulty sleeping. However, hypertension is often known as a silent killer because it frequently occurs without any symptoms at all. Knowing your blood pressure numbers is the best way to stay in control. If your blood pressure rises to a high level requiring emergency treatment, symptoms like severe headaches, anxiety, shortness of breath, and nosebleeds are common.

How Can I Lower My Risk?
There are several lifestyle changes you can make that will allow you to control your blood pressure without the use of medication.

  • Eat a healthy diet that is low in sodium
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke
  • Limit your alcohol intake
  • Manage your stress
  • Follow all instructions for prescription medications you currently take
  • Be aware of sauna and hot tub safety

Adopting these changes into your everyday life can make high blood pressure manageable. Remember that being aware is the most important step, so speak with your doctor if you haven’t had your blood pressure tested recently.

Are There Other Treatment Options?
In addition to changing your lifestyle, your doctor may prescribe medication if your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. It is important to follow the recommendations from your doctor so you can benefit from improved health. Because there is no cure for hypertension, treatment could mean taking medication every day. However, working with your doctor can help you develop a routine that makes maintaining low blood pressure simple. Earlier, better treatment of hypertension also reduces your risk of heart failure, stroke, peripheral artery disease, kidney disease, and heart attack. Find out more about High Blood Pressure Awareness Month, risk by age, and tips for managing your blood pressure here.