It is a
well-documented fact that people who have significantly
elevated blood pressure are at risk for a variety of health
complications. Hypertension or high blood pressure as it
is commonly called, along with heart disease, and stroke cause
approximately 950,000 deaths annually, 40% of which are in the
United States. Nearly one quarter of the U.S.
population, approximately 58 million people, are affected by
hypertension (high blood pressure or HBP) and show no obvious
symptoms. Hence, hypertension is known as the "silent
killer". In fact, hypertension is a world wide epidemic
that is poorly controlled, with less than 25% of the cases
controlled in developed countries and less than 10% in
developing countries. Hypertension alone is the most important
risk factor for heart failure. It is recognized as a major
cardiovascular risk factor. The prevalence and hospitalization
rates, particularly for heart failure, are hospital discharge
among individuals 65 years or older. Blood pressure is the
measurement of force exerted on an arterial wall as the heart
beats (systolic), and then again between beats (diastolic).
Hypertension specifically has a consistent reading of 140/90
In addition, hypertension is the leading cause of strokes,
kidney failure, and blindness. Stroke, the third leading cause
of death, accounts for 150,000 deaths each year. Stroke alone
accounts for disability of more than 1 million Americans.
Having high blood pressure increases stroke risk four to six
times. Hypertension applies stress of blood vessel walls, and
can lead to strokes from blood clots or hemorrhage.
Hypertension has three primary risk factors: tobacco use, poor
nutrition, and lack of exercise, all of which are reversible
and correctable. A low level of fitness further increases the
prevalence of hypertension. Physical inactivity is directly
associated with an increase in mortality from cardiovascular
disease. People who remain sedentary have twice the risk of
heart disease than those who are active. More than half of
U.S. adults do not achieve recommended levels of physical
activity. Evidence accumulated over the past decades strongly
supports the assertion that engaging in a physically active
lifestyle has the potential to decrease, delay, or prevent the
development of hypertension, along with having a favorable
effect on blood pressure.
Another strong and independent risk factor for hypertension is
obesity. Obesity may be one of the best predictors for the
risks of developing hypertension in later life. Almost 60% of
U.S. adults are overweight. Weight gain contributes to the
rise in blood pressure with aging. Obesity is one of the
leading factors that lead to Adult Onset Diabetes. Hence,
weight loss has been shown to improve the quality of life by
reducing blood pressure in hypertensive adults.
Furthermore, new studies show that job strain is directly
linked to hypertension and heart disease. Eighty percent of
Americans think their jobs are stressful, and people who have
highly demanding jobs, with little latitude for making
decisions, have higher blood pressures than those who do not.
The effects of hypertension are also costly from a purely
Overall, the most effective strategy that has aided in the
control of hypertension and its substantial decline is the
ability to detect, evaluate, and treat people with definite
hypertension. Recent research advances have made it possible
to monitor an individual's blood pressure, and are an
important part of hypertension assessment and management.
Indirect blood pressure measurement is safe, relatively
painless and provides reliable information when performed
accurately. Because high blood pressure is almost always
"silent" (without symptoms), diagnosis and treatment
hinge on accurate blood pressure measurements.
Unfortunately, there is no outwardly visible sign of
hypertension. You cannot tell how high a personís blood
pressure is by simply looking at them. According to Dr. Scott
Perkins, the risk is high for a severely hypertensive patient
to walk into his dental office and neither the patient nor the
dentist knows this patient may be hypertensive. This can be
very dangerous for the patient. The dentist administers local
anesthesia to the patient, and the extra epinephrine in the
blood stream increases the blood pressure even further by
causing the smooth muscle on the inside of the arteries and
arterioles to contract, decreasing the diameter of the blood
vessel. The effect, according to Dr. Perkins, is much like a
child holding his thumb over the brass nozzle of a water hose.
We know from simple physics that decreasing the diameter of a
hose while keeping the volume of flow constant increases the
velocity of the liquid traveling down the hose, and increases
pressure on the wall of the of the hose resulting in this case
to heart attack or stroke. Both of these conditions can prove
fatal for the patient in question.
Did you know that virtually every dental and dental hygiene
school in the United States requires that blood pressure be
measured on every patient as part of a dental exam? As you can
see, knowing your blood pressure can be detrimental to your
health. The next time you are at your health care providers
office whether its' your Doctor, Dentist, Chiropractor or
whomever; remind them to kindly check your blood pressure.
Hypertension is a "Silent Killer". Beware of this
enemy so that you may live long and prosper.