Knowing that almost one out of every two Americans today have hypertension (or high blood pressure) illustrates how stressful modern life can be. That’s why all of us at Family HealthCare Associates want to take this time during “High Blood Pressure Education Month” to explain its symptoms and treatments—because if you ignore high blood pressure, it can lead to serious health issues, like a stroke or heart attack.

What causes high blood pressure in the first place? Factors like a high stress job, a sedentary lifestyle, poor eating habits, and being overweight can lead to hypertension while, for other people, it simply runs in the family. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected, and once you’ve been diagnosed, you can work with one of our physicians to treat it.

When it comes to hypertension, knowing is half the battle

Hypertension is often called the “silent killer” because lots of people don’t even realize they have it until they show noticeable symptoms like chest pain, headaches, shortness of breath, or dizziness. So early detection is extremely important as waiting for a serious symptom could be fatal, but the only way to know if you have hypertension is to get your blood pressure checked regularly.

Most physicians check your blood pressure as a part of every routine visit, but a hypertension diagnosis usually takes time because your environment, diet and other factors can affect your results. For instance, many people feel anxious just being at the doctor’s office, which can lead to a high reading, so your physician may ask you to return for several readings (over a few weeks) to determine whether you have it. Or they may encourage you to monitor your heart rate at home.

If you are diagnosed with hypertension, don’t stress out. Just be thankful that you identified it while knowing that often a few simple lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, drinking alcohol, or adopting a heart-healthy diet that includes more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins will do wonders for reducing your high blood pressure. Others people may need to be on prescribed medications, such as beta-blockers, diuretics, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), calcium channel blockers, or Alpha-2 agonists to control their blood pressure.

If you do require medication, know that you may have to try several prescriptions until your doctor finds one that work best for you. Whatever your situation, don’t wait until you experience severe symptoms before taking action. Monitor your blood pressure at home, or get checked for hypertension today by one of our physicians at Family Healthcare Associate before any serious issues arise. It just might save your life.