We often talk about how important it is to “know your numbers” when it comes to your health. Some that are important to track are your weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
Your blood pressure is pivotal to your overall health, since it’s linked to a host of serious health conditions.
As an internal medicine expert, Dr. Gurprit Sekhon is able to monitor your blood pressure and partner with you to lower it if it’s too high.
Aside from providing care for hypertension and a wide range of other services to her patients at Nu Wave Medical Center, Dr. Sekhon is deeply invested in educating you about your health.
What does it mean when we refer to “blood pressure?”
Simply, your blood pressure is the force your blood exerts on the walls of your arteries.
When you talk to Dr. Sekhon about whether your blood pressure is considered low, normal, or high, she explains what the actual reading means.
A reading contains an upper and lower number. The top digit represents your systolic pressure, or your blood pressure while your heart is beating. The other number is your diastolic blood pressure, the reading that’s measured between your heartbeats.
High blood pressure must be controlled, because when your blood pushes too forcefully on your blood vessels, they weaken, and you become at risk for concerning health problems such as stroke and heart disease.
What is considered “normal” blood pressure?
That’s a good question, because five years ago, the answer changed.
High blood pressure used to be defined as a reading of 140 mm Hg/90 mm Hg, whereas in 2017, a group of respected medical organizations — including the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology — unveiled new guidelines, with a reading of 130 mm Hg/80 mm Hg or greater being considered high.
Your blood pressure is elevated if your reading is 120 to 129 mm Hg/80 mm Hg, and a normal reading is 120 mm Hg/80 mm Hg or less.
The damage caused by high blood pressure
Unfortunately, high blood pressure harms your body in many ways:
1. Damages your arteries
Untreated high blood pressure damages the cells in the lining of your arteries, rendering them more vulnerable to accumulating fats from the foods you eat. Your arteries become less elastic, and your blood flow is limited, starving your body of nutrients.
2. Sets the stage for an aneurysm
When your blood flows over and over again through a weakened artery wall, a section of the wall may enlarge and bulge, forming a life-threatening aneurysm. If it ruptures, internal bleeding ensues.
3. Puts you at risk for stroke
When your brain is deprived of oxygen, you experience a stroke, and brain cells die. Hypertension is linked to stroke because it damages your blood vessels, causing them to leak, burst, or narrow, and it contributes to the formation of blood clots in the arteries that lead to your brain.
Hypertension also leads to mini-strokes, or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs).
4. Leads to cognitive impairment
Studies indicate that high blood pressure not only contributes to mild cognitive impairment, it’s linked to a type of dementia called vascular dementia.
5. Leads to heart damage
High blood pressure is associated with heart failure, thickening of the lower left chamber of the heart (because it has to work grader to pump blood to the rest of your body), and coronary artery disease.
6. Causes kidney damage
Hypertension can cause scarring in minute blood vessels of the kidney, so the organ filters waste and fluid from the blood less efficiently. It also causes kidney failure, which is even more serious.
7. Causes eye problems
High blood pressure is linked to retinopathy (retina blood vessel damage), fluid accumulation under the retina, and nerve damage, leading to blurred vision and vision loss.
This litany of health problems — some irreversible — are powerful reasons to monitor your blood pressure and treat it if it’s too high. Dr. Sekhon can help.
Can my high blood pressure be treated?
Nu Wave Medical Center offers help with lowering blood pressure and treatment:
- Lifestyle measures, including improving your diet and exercising more
- Quitting smoking if you’re a smoker
- Losing weight if necessary (we offer medically supervised weight loss)
- Blood pressure-lowering medications when lifestyle changes are insufficient
We’re here to help you manage your blood pressure now and in the future. Getting a blood pressure reading is a part of your annual physical, and Dr. Sekhon often recommends monitoring at home with a home blood pressure machine.
Hypertension is a silent killer, so this is a prime example of knowledge being power!
To learn more about how your blood pressure may be affecting your health, call the Nu Wave office at 850-666-4726 to schedule an appointment, or book one online.