Dangers of Hypertension


About 1 in 3 adults have high blood pressure, or hypertension. This is a serious health condition as it increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. This is why it is so important to monitor and control your blood pressure.

What is Hypertension?

                Your blood pressure is the force of blood pushing from your heart through your arteries to the rest of your body. It is measured using two numbers. The first number is the systolic pressure, it measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The second number is the diastolic blood pressure. It measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests between beats. The chart below lists the blood pressure stages.


High blood pressure occurs when your arteries narrow due to plaque buildup overtime. This occurs over many years and can cause damage and hardening of your arteries and vessels. This leads to decreased blood flow, heart disease, heart failure, and even a heart attack or stroke. Most people don’t even know that they have hypertension because there are very few symptoms. This is why it is so important to get your blood pressure checked regularly. This can be done at your doctor’s office, the Ste. Genevieve County Health Department or even at home.



Risk Factors

It is unknown what causes hypertension. However, there are several risk factors such as age, race, family history, being overweight, not being physically active, using tobacco or alcohol, a high sodium (salt) diet, stress and certain chronic conditions.

  • Age: The risk of hypertension increases with age.
  • Race: High blood pressure is common in African Americans and develops at an earlier age than       Caucasians.
  • Family History: a family history of hypertension increases your risk of developing high blood pressure
  • Overweight and physically inactive: the more you weigh the more blood that you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the amount of blood increases so does the pressure on your arteries. Additionally, people who are inactive have higher heart rates causing the heart to work harder leading to high blood pressure
  • Use of tobacco: smoking and chewing tobacco raises blood pressure and can cause your arteries to narrow which increases your risk of heart disease
  • A high sodium diet: too much salt in your diet can cause your body to hold onto fluid which increases blood pressure
  • Other Chronic diseases: kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea increase the risk of hypertension.


By knowing your risk factors, you can make modifications and lifestyle changes to decrease your chance of developing hypertension. Some ways you can lower your blood pressure are eating a healthy diet low in sodium, fat and cholesterol, and high in fresh fruits and vegetables. Regular physical activity such as walking for just 10 minutes a day is a great way to reduce your blood pressure. It is also important to monitor your blood pressure regularly and talk to your doctor about medications to help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.