Did you know that high blood pressure affects over 50 million people over the age of six in the United States (including 1 in 4 adults)? As if that weren't enough, another 22% (45 million) Americans have prehypertension. While most cases of high blood pressure have no cure, the issue can be controlled through proper diet and exercise as well as prescribed medicine.
What is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure is a common condition that, if left untreated, will cause the heart to overwork itself to the point of serious damage. Untreated high blood pressure not only affects the heart, but can also cause injury to the brain, kidneys, eyes, and other organs.
Facts and Statistics About High Blood Pressure
30% of people with high blood pressure do not know they have it
Until age 55, high blood pressure is more common among men than women
At age 75, high blood pressure becomes more common in women than men
High blood pressure occurs disproportionately more in the black community
Black women have an 85% higher rate of medical care visits for high blood pressure than do white women
High Blood Pressure in Children
High blood pressure is also becoming a more common issue amongst American children as rapidly increasing obesity rates continue to be an issue. Recent research has shown that supplementing infant formula with polyunsaturated fatty acids has a beneficial impact on blood pressure later in childhood. Previous studies also show that breast milk contains such fatty acids, leading to breast-fed children having lower blood pressure than those who were formula fed.
Risks of High Blood Pressure
Patients with hypertension are at increased risk for the following:
- Heart disease (ex: heart failure, cardiac death, cardiomyopathy, etc.)
- Hardened arteries (atherosclerosis)
- Aortic aneurysm
- Kidney failure
- Loss of vision (retinopathy)
The chart below illustrates the stages of blood pressure for adults over 18 who are not taking blood pressure medicine:
Symptoms and Signs of High Blood Pressure
Many people with mild/moderate high blood pressure cannot tell when their blood pressure is too high-- in fact, roughly ⅓ of people with hypertension are completely unaware of their condition. In addition to the symptoms below, patients with high blood pressure may experience chest pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms related to heart disease.
High blood pressure has been known to cause:
- Nausea or upset stomach
- Vision changes or problems
- Excessive sweating
- Paleness or redness of skin
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Palpitations (strong, fast or obviously irregular heartbeat)
- Ringing or buzzing in ears