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High Blood Pressure

Over time, high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can damage your blood vessels, allowing cholesterol and other substances to build up. High blood pressure also increases your heart’s workload, which can affect its ability to pump blood and could lead to a heart attack. If left untreated, high blood pressure increases your risk of coronary artery disease and other heart problems. It is the most serious risk factor for stroke.

At SSM Health Heart & Vascular Care, we have more specialists in more locations caring for hearts like yours. Our team includes leading cardiologists, electrophysiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons – all providing the most inpatient heart care in the area.

Causes of High Blood Pressure

Previously diagnosed health conditions, lifestyle and family history are all risk factors that can increase your chances of developing high blood pressure. Some of these risk factors cannot be controlled, such as your age or family history. But, you can take steps to lower your risk by changing the factors you are in control of.

Risk factors for high blood pressure include:

  • Age
  • Family history of high blood pressure
  • Being of Afro-Caribbean or South Asian origin
  • High-fat diet
  • High amount of salt in your diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Stress

Signs & Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure does not usually cause any obvious symptoms. However, symptoms do occur in rare cases where a person’s blood pressure is extremely elevated, making it good to be aware of these signs. These can include:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Regular nosebleeds
  • Shortness of breath

Treating High Blood Pressure

Treatment for high blood pressure depends on your blood pressure levels and associated risk (after taking account of several factors) of developing a cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack or stroke.

Talk with your SSM Health primary care provider and make sure your blood pressure is at the recommended level. Use the guidelines below as a base measure:

  • Healthy blood pressure < (less than) 120/80 mm Hg
  • Prehypertension is 120/80 mm Hg to 139/89 mm Hg
  • Hypertension > (greater than) 140/90 mm Hg

It’s important to take your heart health seriously, and our expert physicians at SSM Health can help develop a personalized care plan best suited to your needs. In addition to medications, your physician may suggest stress management, dietary changes, exercise or quitting smoking to help manage your blood pressure. Taking these steps can help you improve your health, and maintain it in the future. Contact us today to find a physician or set up an appointment.

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