A recent study reports that uncontrolled high blood pressure cases are trending up in the U.S with a 10% spike during 2017 and 2018 over prior years. Data was compiled from the survey conducted by U.S. National Health and Nutrition on adults suffering from hypertension starting in 1999 and continuing through 2018.
What Defines High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the amount of pressure exerted against your artery walls to carry blood throughout your body. Hypertension or high blood pressure is when your blood pressure is higher than normal. While blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day, if it stays high for too many hours of the day, it can do damage to your body.
CDC quotes new 2017 blood pressure guidelines of 130/80mmHg as the new high for healthy blood pressure. Readings above that are considered too high. The top number is your systolic blood pressure and the bottom number is your diastolic figure. The systolic number measures the artery pressure applied during contractions in your heart, while the diastolic reading measures the pressure in your heart muscle during the period between heartbeats.
Specifics of Blood Pressure Study Findings
This study’s findings serve as a red flag for the medical community warning of problems ahead if measures aren’t taken to better educate and treat the public. Healthline reports that promising numbers reflected an increase in the number of Americans who were controlling their hypertension until 2014, when the findings began to reflect a downturn with more uncontrolled cases of high blood pressure.
Specifically, between the years of 2013 and 2018, Healthline reports that the total percentage of adults in the U.S. who had their blood pressure under control dropped by an alarming 11%. Additionally, when reviewing the segment of the adult population in the 40 to 60 age range from 2009 to 2018, Healthline reports that the number of these adults successfully managing their hypertension fell approximately 10%.
What The Study Findings Mean for the Medical Community
Based on Fox’s report that only 19% of adults living in the U.S. are successfully managing their blood pressure, there is a lot of work that needs to be done to educate the public and help them understand the importance of maintaining healthy blood pressure readings.
Communicating the seriousness of hypertension is obviously a major goal that physicians must communicate to their patients. The numbers tell the story about how dangerous it is to ignore high blood pressure. The impact of neglecting to monitor blood pressure can be deadly.
CDC reports that in 2018 alone, 494,873 fatalities were linked to hypertension. This condition puts you at high risk for a stroke or heart disease. Often a silent killer, people may never feel sick until they suffer from a major health event. That’s why it is so important for physicians to stress getting your blood pressure checked regularly, especially for any patient with elevated numbers who is either approaching hypertension levels or is already suffering from hypertension on a regular basis.
What High Blood Pressure Does to the Body
High blood pressure impacts the entire body. While healthy arteries are flexible and smooth which allows sufficient blood to flow to your organs, hypertension damages your arteries’ lining. That’s where the problems start.
The result of hypertension over time leads to narrow and damaged arteries where fats can accumulate. As your artery walls lose their elasticity, limiting blood flow, an aneurysm can occur. Mayo Clinic defines an aneurysm as a bulge in an artery where the wall is weakened. In cases where this wall ruptures, the resulting internal bleeding can be fatal.
2. Coronary Artery Disease
High blood pressure forces your heart to work harder. This causes chest pain, arrhythmias and in the worst cases, a heart attack. What happens when this occurs is that the left ventricle thickens which can increase your risk of a sudden heart attack or heart failure.
While heart failure happens over time, it is still deadly. Essentially, the heart muscle weakens and begins to fail.
3. Brain Damage
Much like the heart, your brain requires a sufficient supply of healthy blood to function properly. When your arteries get hard or blood clots form, then the risk of a ministroke, or transient ischemic attack (TIA) increases. A TIA is often a warning that a stroke is imminent.
A stroke has devastating effects and can be fatal. A stroke occurs when your brain cells don’t get enough oxygen or nutrients which causes them to die. In many cases, a stroke can leave patients paralyzed or unable to speak in a disabled condition.
4. Kidney Damage
You can’t live without your kidneys. These organs act as filters, purifying your blood. High blood pressure damages the blood vessels that feed your kidneys. Kidney disease can be debilitating. Unchecked hypertension can cause scarring of your kidneys or kidney failure. In severe cases, dialysis or a kidney transplant may be the only treatments available to stay alive.
5. Eye Damage
High blood pressure is a contributor to retinopathy or retina damage. This can result in bleeding and blurry vision. In the worst cases, loss of vision can occur.
Choroidopathy is another serious eye condition that can result from hypertension. This is a condition where fluid forms under the retina. Scarring can result. Distorted vision is also a symptom of this condition.
In cases where the optic nerve is damaged, your eye can bleed which can result in loss of vision.
As a silent killer, high blood pressure often destroys your body without any aches or pains to warn you before it is too late. Reportedly, survey results reveal that the U.S. population is not successfully controlling hypertension. Lifestyle changes, medication, regular blood pressure monitoring and education can put the public back on the track for better health.