Why Is High Blood Pressure So Dangerous? Here’s Why They Call It a ‘Silent Killer’

If you or someone you know has high blood pressure, you’re not alone.

According to the CDC, 1 in every 3 American adults lives with high blood pressure. And there are a dozen different ways you can manage it if your doctor says you have it.

But before you make changes to your diet, your exercise routine, and your go-to stress management strategies, you should first know what makes this health condition so dangerous.

Yes, it’s highly treatable and not always deadly. But you can’t treat something you don’t even know you have.

The many dangers of high blood pressure

A doctor checks a patient's blood pressure.

A doctor checks a patient’s blood pressure. | iStock.com/AndreyPopov

You’ve likely heard that high blood pressure increases your risk of having a heart attack. The condition also elevates your risk of having a debilitating stroke. These aren’t the only consequences of unmanaged blood pressure, though. Some of them might surprise you.

The condition can lead to health problems as severe as:

  • Blindness
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney damage
  • Heart disease/failure

Other issues can include sexual dysfunction, osteoporosis, and even dementia.

Once you’re diagnosed, learning about all the recommended changes you’d have to make to stay healthy can feel overwhelming. But even though high blood pressure has no cure, a combination of medication, physical activity, and optimal nutrition can save you from a handful of diseases.

It’s a ‘silent killer’ because there aren’t usually symptoms

You’d think something as risky as high blood pressure would at least give you a headache. And for some people, it does. But those who experience pain, shortness of breath, or even nosebleeds as a result of their condition are often in danger, and have had the condition for a long time without knowing it.

Most people don’t experience any symptoms at all. There aren’t warning signs to let them know something is wrong. Becausue¬†the condition develops very slowly over time, your blood vessels and other parts of your body could sustain significant damage — and you might not know until tragedy strikes.

High blood pressure increases your risk of potentially deadly health conditions like dementia and heart failure. Without symptoms, you have to rely on knowing and managing common risk factors to decrease your risk — and get treated as soon as possible if you need to.

Are you at risk?

High blood pressure

High blood pressure | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

Your age, gender, and lifestyle habits all contribute to your risk of high blood pressure. Some are more susceptible to others, and knowing your likelihood of developing the condition can help you catch and treat it before it’s too late.

Common risk factors for developing high blood pressure include:

  • Age — the older you get, the greater your risk.
  • Gender — Men are more likely to develop high blood pressure than women.
  • Family history — If a close relative has it, you’re at an increased risk as well.
  • Diet and exercise habits — Poor eating habits and physical inactivity increase blood pressure.
  • Your weight — The more you weigh, the greater your risk.
  • Your drinking habits¬†— Alcohol increases your risk if you overdo it consistently.
  • Stress — If you don’t learn to manage it, you’ll likely regret it.

Take steps to prevent high blood pressure before it happens. And if you’re one of many whose genes are to blame, living a healthy, active lifestyle can still benefit you, even if you do receive a diagnosis eventually.

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