Hypertension, the gateway disease

(DailyProgress.com) — It is not uncommon to come across a patient in the United States who has hypertension, or, in more familiar terms, high blood pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about one in every three Americans has the disease — a huge percentage of the population.

Knowing this, there is a good chance that you have high blood pressure, and if you don’t, I guarantee someone close to you does. You may be asking yourself: When do I need to start checking my blood pressure? I don’t feel bad, so why is high blood pressure a big deal? Do I need to spend my hard-earned money on medications to combat this problem? These are all important questions that everyone should be asking.

The age at which a person should start having his or her blood pressure checked is a topic of debate. However, the United States Preventative Services Task Force currently recommends hypertension screening for those ages 18 and older. One reason that starting with checks so young is important is the nature of denial in our country. Many people in their 30s and 40s who work out regularly and eat healthy believe there is no way they could have high blood pressure. Unfortunately, for those people, it usually takes a physician or unrelated emergency room visit to find out otherwise. Genetics, like most other conditions, do play a role in high blood pressure and, despite an active lifestyle, you are still at risk.

Let me make a bold comparison: If marijuana is the gateway drug, then hypertension is the gateway disease.

High blood pressure increases your risk for stroke and heart disease. The last thing you want is to have a stroke from high blood pressure, which you never knew you had. For those not eating the best foods or staying the most active, lifestyle modification can make a significant impact on blood pressure.

An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure, and it is far better never to develop heart disease or a stroke than to have to deal with the consequences once they have occurred. If you are worried about the cost of a doctor visit, there are free blood pressures screenings held in our community throughout the year. Remember, controlling your blood pressure control is an investment in the prevention of potentially far more disabling diseases.

Crunch the numbers of how much it costs to treat 100 million Americans for hypertension and you soon will see why pharmaceutical companies are big business. Per the CDC, only about 46 percent of the 100 million Americans with hypertension have the disease under control.


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