The Month of May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month.  High blood pressure (hypertension) is a silent killer that can quietly damage your body for years before you develop any symptoms.  It’s extremely dangerous, and if left uncontrolled, could result in disabilities, poor quality of life or even a fatal heart attack.  Nearly half of those that leave hypertension untreated die of heart disease related to poor blood flow and another third die of stroke.  At Sunflower Home Health, we want to educate the communities in which we serve about high blood pressure and encourage everyone to make sure you are getting your blood pressure checked regularly.

Many people don’t go to the doctor, which means they could have high blood pressure and not even know it.  They feel fine, but the truth is that they are not.  Their body is being damaged by high blood pressure and they have no idea.  Any time you see any medical provider, the first thing they will normally do is check your blood pressure.  If you are going to your doctor regularly, and we recommend at least an annual check-up, you will know if you have high blood pressure.  If you don’t go see your doctor, please go to any pharmacy and use the blood pressure machine to have it checked.  We cannot stress this enough, this is something that you need to stay on top of.

So what exactly will high blood pressure do to your body? Well, we’ve compiled a list:

  • Damage to your arteries
  • Damage to your heart
  • Damage to your brain
  • Damage to your kidneys
  • Damage to your eyes
  • Bone Loss
  • Trouble Sleeping

We will start with damage to your arteries.  Healthy arteries are flexible, strong, and elastic.  Their inner lining is smooth so that blow can flow freely, which supplies your vital organs and tissues with nutrients and oxygen.  With high blood pressure, there will be a gradual increase in pressure of blood flowing through your arteries.  As a result, you might experience damaged and narrow arteries or and aneurysm.  High blood pressure can damage the cells of your arteries’ inner lining.  When fats from your diet enter your bloodstream, they can collect in the damaged arteries.  Eventually, the walls of your arteries will become less elastic, which results in limited blood flow throughout your body.  Also, over time, the constant pressure of blood moving through a weakened artery can result in a section of that artery’s wall to enlarge and form a bulge, or aneurysm.  An aneurysm can potentially rupture and cause life-threatening internal bleeding.  Aneurysms can form n any artery throughout your body, but they are most common in your aorta (largest artery in your body).

When it comes to the heart, uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage your heart in a number of ways, including coronary artery disease, enlarged left heart, and heart failure.  Coronary artery disease affects the arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle. Arteries narrowed by coronary artery disease don’t allow blood to flow freely through your arteries. When blood can’t flow freely to your heart, you can experience chest pain, a heart attack or irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias).  High blood pressure forces your heart to work harder than necessary in order to pump blood to the rest of your body. This causes the left ventricle to thicken or stiffen (left ventricular hypertrophy). These changes limit the ventricle’s ability to pump blood to your body. This condition increases your risk of heart attack, heart failure and sudden cardiac death.  Over time, the strain on your heart caused by high blood pressure can cause your heart muscle to weaken and work less efficiently. Eventually, your overwhelmed heart simply begins to wear out and fail. Damage from heart attacks adds to this problem.

Just like your heart, your brain depends on a nourishing blood supply to work properly and survive. But high blood pressure can cause several problems, including transient ischemic attack (TIA), stroke, dementia, and mild cognitive impairment.  Sometimes called a mini-stroke, a transient ischemic (is-KEE-mik) attack is a brief, temporary disruption of blood supply to your brain. It’s often caused by atherosclerosis or a blood clot — both of which can arise from high blood pressure. A transient ischemic attack is often a warning that you’re at risk of a full-blown stroke. A stroke occurs when part of your brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients, causing brain cells to die. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke by damaging and weakening your brain’s blood vessels, causing them to narrow, rupture or leak. High blood pressure can also cause blood clots to form in the arteries leading to your brain, blocking blood flow and potentially causing a stroke. Dementia is a brain disease resulting in problems with thinking, speaking, reasoning, memory, vision and movement. There are a number of causes of dementia. One cause, vascular dementia, can result from narrowing and blockage of the arteries that supply blood to the brain. It can also result from strokes caused by an interruption of blood flow to the brain. In either case, high blood pressure may be the culprit.  Mild cognitive impairment is a transition stage between the changes in understanding and memory that come with aging and the more-serious problems caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Like dementia, it can result from blocked blood flow to the brain when high blood pressure damages arteries.

Your kidneys filter excess fluid and waste from your blood — a process that depends on healthy blood vessels. High blood pressure can injure both the blood vessels in and leading to your kidneys, causing several types of kidney disease (nephropathy). Having diabetes in addition to high blood pressure can worsen the damage. High blood pressure can cause kidney failure, kidney scarring (glomerulosclerosis), and kidney artery aneurysm.  High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of kidney failure. That’s because it can damage both the large arteries leading to your kidneys and the tiny blood vessels (glomeruli) within the kidneys. Damage to either makes it so your kidneys can’t effectively filter waste from your blood. As a result, dangerous levels of fluid and waste can accumulate. You might ultimately require dialysis or kidney transplantation. Glomerulosclerosis (gloe-mer-u-loe-skluh-ROE-sis) is a type of kidney damage caused by scarring of the glomeruli (gloe-MER-u-li). The glomeruli are tiny clusters of blood vessels within your kidneys that filter fluid and waste from your blood. Glomerulosclerosis can leave your kidneys unable to filter waste effectively, leading to kidney failure.

Tiny, delicate blood vessels supply blood to your eyes. Like other vessels, they, too, can be damaged by high blood pressure, which causes eye blood vessel damage (retinopathy), fluid buildup under the retina (choroidopathy), and nerve damage. High blood pressure can damage the vessels supplying blood to your retina, causing retinopathy. This condition can lead to bleeding in the eye, blurred vision and complete loss of vision. If you also have both diabetes and high blood pressure, you’re at an even greater risk. With fluid buildup under the retina, fluid builds up under your retina because of a leaky blood vessel in a layer of blood vessels located under the retina. Choroidopathy (kor-oid-OP-uh-thee) can result in distorted vision or in some cases scarring that impairs vision. While nerve damage is a condition in which blocked blood flow damages the optic nerve. It can kill nerve cells in your eyes, which may cause bleeding within your eye or vision loss.

High blood pressure is usually a chronic condition that gradually causes damage over the years. But sometimes blood pressure rises so quickly and severely that it becomes a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment, often with hospitalization.  At Sunflower Home Health, we must recommend that you do everything that you can to stay on top of this.  Get your blood pressure checked any chance you get.

If you would like to know more about high blood pressure, please don’t hesitate to navigate to the contact us form and reach out or give us a call at your local office.  Those numbers are listed below:

Charleston – (662) 647-0653

Clarksdale – (662) 624-4141

Cleveland – (662)756-4676

Greenwood – (662) 455-3535

Grenada – (662) 294-0726

Indianola – (662) 887-1518

At Sunflower Home Health, we truly believe that education and awareness are the keys to making the Mississippi Delta a healthy and safe place to live, something that we are committed to making a reality.

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