High blood pressure is a common condition in which the force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.
Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure. You can have high blood pressure (hypertension) for years without any symptoms. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke.
High blood pressure typically develops over many years, and it affects nearly everyone eventually. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected. And once you know you have high blood pressure, you can work with your doctor to control it.
Most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even if blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels.
Although a few people with early-stage high blood pressure may have dull headaches, dizzy spells or a few more nosebleeds than normal, these signs and symptoms typically don't occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe stage.
High blood pressure has many risk factors, including:
- Family history
- Being overweight or obese
- Lack of physical activity
- Too much salt (sodium) in your diet
- Too little potassium in your diet
- Too little vitamin D in your diet
- Drinking too much alcohol
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to:
- Heart attack or stroke
- Heart failure
- Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in your kidneys. This can prevent these organs from functioning normally.
- Thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes. This can result in vision loss.
- Trouble with memory or understanding
It's never too early to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, eating healthy foods and becoming more physically active. Get a regular medical check up done to check your blood pressure levels. These are primary lines of defence against high blood pressure and its complications.