Lifesaving Truths About Hypertension
If you have high blood pressure, you may think it’s the result of the normal aging process. The truth is, unhealthy eating patterns and certain medical conditions can cause high blood pressure, and many factors can increase your risk. Yet many myths continue to circulate about the disease.
Part of the confusion stems from the fact that high blood pressure—or hypertension—is unlike many short-term illnesses. For example, it usually causes no symptoms, yet it can lead to serious complications. It is also treatable and sometimes preventable—but it can't be cured.
Take action when diagnosed
Because hypertension does not make you feel sick, you may be shocked to learn that you have it. Nevertheless, it’s important to take action right away.
Over time, high blood pressure causes serious damage to vital organs inside the body—all without telltale signs. It causes problems with the heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes—which can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and more.
Get the facts
Knowledge is the key to conquering hypertension. Here are the truths behind these widely believed myths about this disease.
An aggressive personality does not cause high blood pressure. Despite the name hypertension, there is no link between the disease and anxiety or personality. However, your body’s response to chronic stress can increase your risk for high blood pressure. And if you cope with daily stress by smoking, drinking alcohol, or eating junk food, you will also increase your risk of developing the condition.
High blood pressure is not a normal part of aging. The likelihood of developing high blood pressure does increase with age. But high blood pressure is not something older adults must accept or live with. No matter your age, it can be controlled in most people.
Women get high blood pressure nearly as often as men. Of the estimated 108 million adults who have high blood pressure, 43% are women. After menopause, a woman’s risk of developing hypertension is actually higher than for a man her age. In some women, pregnancy or taking birth control pills can make blood pressure rise.
High blood pressure can strike anyone, at any age, but adopting a healthy lifestyle can help prevent it. Making healthy choices every day—such as regular physical activity, eating a heart-healthy diet, managing stress, limiting alcohol, and avoiding tobacco—is a winning strategy. Doing so reduces your risk of developing hypertension and lowers your chance of developing many other serious diseases.