High blood pressure: A real silent killer
Why you need to know if you have it, and how to treat it.
(By: Felicity Duncan, moneyweb.com) I recently learned that I have what my doctor describes as “elevated blood pressure” – that is, blood pressure that routinely exceeds the 120/80 mmHg that is considered the top of the normal range, but doesn’t quite hit the 140/90 mmHg that indicates true high blood pressure.
This discovery has alarmed me, because having high blood pressure is a Very Bad Thing. It’s a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke, it can damage the blood vessels in your kidneys and and cause kidney failure, and it can damage fine blood vessels in your brain and cause trouble with memory and cognitive processing. If left untreated, as it far too often is, high blood pressure reduces both longevity and quality of life.
It also alarmed me because I’m not supposed to have high blood pressure. High blood pressure or hypertension, is more likely to affect older people, the obese or inactive, smokers, or people with diabetes, and I am none of these things. I’m only 33, for a start, and I don’t smoke or have diabetes. I’m 1.7m tall and weigh 55 kilograms, giving me a BMI of 19 – right at the bottom of the normal range – so I’m not obese or overweight. And I’m physically active; I do yoga twice a week, I bike and walk about 30km a week, I eat reasonably well, and I only drink and carouse in moderation. In short, I’m doing pretty much everything right, habitwise, yet despite all my efforts my blood pressure is stubbornly stuck at about 130/85.
According to my doctor, my major mistake was in selecting my parents; there is a history of hypertension on both sides of my family tree, and all the good habits in the world are apparently not enough to overcome the power of hereditary. In addition, she accused me of being overly stressed and anxious, which is true, and of eating too much salt, which may also be true (hey, no one’s perfect).