If you push on something with more force than it can take, you’ll move it. If you put too much pressure on something, it will break. These are basic laws of physics and this is perhaps the most important aspect of high blood pressure that you need to understand.
When your blood pressure it too high, you are continuously putting undue stress on your blood vessels. This added pressure damages your arteries, which are essential to feeding oxygenated blood to your organs and tissues.
The main problems associated with damage to these arteries as a result of high blood pressure are heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, kidney failure, vision loss, sexual dysfuntion, angina, and peripheral artery disease.
All of these problems stem from the simple fact that too much pressure over time causes damage.
Nearly 1 out of every 2 adult Americans suffers from high blood pressure and the older you get, the higher you are at risk for developing high blood pressure, simply from physiological changes in our bodies.
The normal aging process can cause our big elastic arteries to become stiff over time. This can increase blood pressure, as the ventricles must pump harder to force blood out of the heart and into the arteries.
High blood pressure can cause microscopic damage to the inner lining of the muscular arteries and lead to a starting place for atherosclerosis. When atherosclerosis is not stopped, it can lead to blocked coronary arteries and a possible heart attack, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease. It can also cause the muscular walls of the ventricles to become thick and stiff, which can lead to heart failure (American Heart Association, 2018).
Think of it like this. If you’ve ever pressure washed your deck, you know there is a fine line between cleaning off the surface and actually destroying the wood. If you use too much pressure on the deck, you can easily damage the wood and in some cases, completely blow it all away.
But why does nearly half of the adult population suffer from high blood pressure? What are the main causes attributing to this staggering statistic.
Well, we touched on the fact that as we age, our blood vessels lose elasticity, which leads to higher blood pressure. There may also be genetic components, as well as gender and race aspects, but the main factors contributing to high blood pressure are factors we can control.
Lack of physical activity, unhealthy diets high in salt and fats, obesity, high cholesterol, smoking, and stress are all ingredients to the high blood pressure recipe. The only way to combat these contributing factors is to make healthier lifestyle decisions and educate those around us.
This is a topic that we ALL must learn about and take steps to improve our blood pressure. Thanks for listening.