Prevent Heart Failure, Kidney Failure & Stroke: Check Your Blood Pressure
by Joseph D. Tabora, M.D.
This article starts below.
Checking your blood pressure is a simple procedure that will help you prevent heart failure, stroke and kidney failure occurring as complications of hypertension.
Natural history of hypertension
Hypertension by itself is not a very dreadful condition. As many persons with hypertension will attest, they may feel fine even if their blood pressure is high. What is worrisome about hypertension is its complications: stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and even loss of vision.
Complications of hypertension that may occur suddenly include stroke and heart attack. When the blood pressure is high, arteries supplying blood to the brain may rupture. This causes bleeding in the brain and will be manifested as stroke.
A heart attack may also occur when the blood pressure is high. When the blood pressure is high, the heart needs to overcome this pressure in order to effectively pump blood throughout the body. The increased work of the heart also increases its own need for blood in order to power its muscles. If the need for increased blood flow cannot be met, either because of hardened arteries or clogged arteries, some of the heart muscles will not have enough energy to pump. This will be felt as chest pain and may lead to a heart attack.
Hypertension left untreated for several years will damage the blood vessels supplying the different organs of the body. Prolonged exposure of the inner layer of the blood vessels to high pressure accelerates the hardening and obstruction of blood vessels. When left untreated, hypertension will lead to stroke, kidney failure and even poor eyesight.
What you can do
For those who are not hypertensive, the simple act of checking you blood pressure at least once a year will be able to detect the condition early and avoid the chronic complications.
Hypertensive individuals taking maintenance medicine should check their blood pressure regularly. If the blood pressure is still above 140/90 mmHg, they should consult a physician. The objective is to maintain a blood pressure below 140/90.