High blood pressure has truly earned its nickname as the “silent killer.” Since many symptoms aren’t obvious, some people don’t feel any symptoms when they have it. Because it tends to develop slowly, the high pressure against your blood vessel walls tends to gradually overwork your heart and blood vessels. This puts a strain on your vital organs and causes high-risk problems, such as kidney damage, heart failure and stroke.
More than 31 percent of Kansans live with high blood pressure. And it’s not only older people. Teens and children in our community are developing it as well. Many factors beyond unhealthy diet – such as education, income level and occupation — can contribute to a person’s chances of developing this disease.
Once you have the disease, it can only be controlled, not cured. That’s why prevention and early detection is so important.
A QUICK 101
There are two types of hypertension — essential hypertension (primary hypertension) and secondary hypertension:
- Essential hypertension: This is the most common hypertension seen in adults. The causes of this type of high blood pressure are hard to pinpoint. Genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors may play a role.
- Secondary hypertension: About 6 percent of the time, high blood pressure can be clearly linked to a known cause — and usually this cause is another disease or condition, such as kidney disease, adrenal disease, or hyperparathyroidism (excessive hormones produced by glands in your neck).
No matter which type of high blood pressure you are diagnosed with, lifestyle changes can help slow down the progression. For instance:
- Eat more healthy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Keep a healthy body mass index (BMI).
- Get enough exercise. For adults, that is 2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise every week.
- Do not smoke and limit your alcohol use. This generally means a maximum of two drinks per day for men and one per day for women.
The Impact of High Blood Pressure on Our Community’s Health
- In Shawnee County, 36.1 percent of the population is living with high blood pressure. This is higher than both the state and national averages.
- High blood pressure tends to affect more older adults (45 years of age or older) than young adults in Kansas.
- African Americans have higher risk of having high blood pressure than other groups in Kansas.
The Importance of the Right Medical Team for High Blood Pressure Treatment and Recovery
Having the right team can effectively lower your risk of developing high blood pressure — or stop the condition from worsening.
Your primary care physician can assess your risk level and help you develop a healthy lifestyle plan. They can also educate family members on how to support you in these changes.
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, one or many different specialists may be a part of your treatment and recovery team. These specialists can collaborate with your primary care physician to get a holistic view of your overall health condition.
Don’t forget to check out our community resources, too. Stormont Vail Health offers many different support groups and community events to help prevent high blood pressure and other health conditions, including:
A Closer Look: Life with High Blood Pressure
More Than Numbers: What High Blood Pressure Means For Your Health
Next Steps for Patients
- To stay on top of your blood pressure, book your next primary care visit by calling (785) 270-4440. You can also use MyChart to make an appointment.
- Learn more about heart care services at Stormont Vail Health.