Why Bother With Hypertension Treatment?
Of course, the first goal is lowering your high blood pressure and reducing your risk for serious illnesses.
By Lynn Yoffee
Medically Reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
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Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a dangerous condition because most people who have it experience no symptoms. Because of that, some patients neglect to make lifestyle changes that are essential to improve their health and to take their medication, if needed.
Ignore Hypertension Treatment at Your Own Peril
Without hypertension treatment, you could be at risk for many serious, even life-threatening conditions, such as:
Stroke:Hypertension puts you at a higher risk for stroke. Stroke happens when the pressure causes a blood vessel to weaken and bleed in your brain. High blood pressure can also cause blood clots that block an artery and lead to a stroke.
Hardened arteries:High blood pressure is a cause of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. When that happens, certain organs, particularly your heart and kidneys, are forced to work harder, endangering your overall health.
Kidney damage:Ongoing hypertension can cause blood vessels that lead to your kidneys to become thickened and narrowed. When this happens, your kidneys stop working efficiently at their job of filtering wastes out of your blood. Eventually you can experience kidney failure, requiring dialysis or even a kidney transplant.
Heart attack and congestive heart failure (CHF):Hypertension is a leading cause of both heart attacks and CHF. As in the other conditions mentioned, high blood pressure affects the arteries that bring oxygen-rich blood to the heart. If your heart doesn't get enough, you can have a heart attack, or it can result in congestive heart failure, a chronic condition in which your heart becomes enlarged and weakened and can't pump enough blood for your body to function properly.
Vision damage:Hypertension can result in bursting or bleeding blood vessels in the back of your eyes. Over time, your vision can blur and you may be at risk of blindness.
Erectile dysfunction (ED):About two-thirds of men who have high blood pressure also have sexual difficulties, including problems getting or maintaining erections.
The Benefits of Hypertension Treatment
For most people, treatment of hypertension can control the condition and delay or prevent the kinds of complications described above. Lifestyle changes may prevent hypertension if you are at risk for it, as well as lessen it if you already have high blood pressure.
Following a multi-approach treatment plan outlined by your physician will work to get your blood pressure down to a safe range and address the health problems that may have caused it or can cause it to worsen. A successful hypertension treatment plan consists of lifestyle changes and, if these alone don't lower your high blood pressure, your doctor will prescribe one medication or a combination of drugs.
The benefits of treating hypertension extend beyond lowering blood pressure and preventing more serious health conditions. The very tangible good-for-you effects you’ll experience from hypertension treatment and lifestyle changes include:
Weight loss:Extra weight causes your heart to work harder, so if you are overweight, you’ll need to shed some pounds. (For some, this may be the only treatment that you’ll need for hypertension. Losing just 10 pounds works as an effective hypertension treatment for many overweight people.)
Better fitness level through exercise:For effective hypertension treatment, your ultimate goal will be to exercise for 30 minutes regularly, preferably on most days. Exercise will also boost your energy level and help your cardiovascular system function better.
Better heart and overall health:In addition to cutting down on alcohol and quitting smoking, you’ll achieve these health benefits by eating a low-fat diet with lots of vegetables and fruit. The American Heart Association recommends the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, eating plan specifically as part of your treatment of hypertension. In addition to its focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, it includes low-fat or fat-free dairy products, chicken, fish, beans, nuts, and seeds. It also emphasizes a reduction in salt consumption because salt can contribute to high blood pressure.
As you work to develop healthier habits and adjust to any medications that might be prescribed, you’ll begin to make steady progress in lowering your blood pressure and reducing your risk of further illness. Though hypertension itself has no obvious symptoms that you can feel, hypertension treatment has benefits that you’ll feel almost immediately.
Video: British Heart Foundation - High blood pressure and heart disease
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