While most people are well aware of the seriousness of heart disease, not all are aware of how high blood pressure can lead to heart disease. High blood pressure, if left untreated or not managed properly, can cause long-term damage to your body before you notice any symptoms. You may not even realize that your heart is at risk.
What causes high blood pressure and how can it be prevented?
The ideal blood pressure range lies between 90/60 and 120/80.
What does that mean? The top number, or systolic, in your reading indicates the pressure inside your arteries when your heart muscle contracts. Your diastolic (or top) number indicates the pressure in your arteries when your heart muscle beats between beats. If your blood pressure reads 130/80 or more, it is high.
Lifestyle factors such as poor nutrition and insufficient exercise are the main causes of high blood pressure. The following are other factors that can contribute to high blood pressure development:
Thyroid disorders and adrenal problems are hormone issues.
- Diabetes (high blood sugar level)
- Excessive weight or obesity
- Alcohol consumption
High blood pressure is more common in those with a family history. It is important to be aware of the possible effects on your heart health if you have been diagnosed.
Which heart diseases could you be at highest risk?
High blood pressure can have dangerous consequences that go beyond the vessels and arteries. High blood pressure can cause damage to your entire blood circulation system, including your heart. Your heart could be at risk if the entire system is damaged or weak.
High blood pressure can cause damage to your vessels and arteries, which could lead to many heart (cardiovascular) diseases. You should be aware of heart disease, heart attack and heart failure as well as an enlarged left hemisphere.
- Coronary artery disease
Atherosclerosis is the cause of high blood pressure and coronary heart disease. This is when your arteries narrow and become weaker due to plaque buildup. These plaques are composed of cholesterol and fat. Because of its potential for heart attack, coronary artery disease can be dangerous. It is also more difficult for blood to flow to the heart and provide it with the nutrients and oxygen it needs.
- Heart attack
Myocardial Infarction is a medical term for a heart attack. It occurs when the fatty plaque within the wall of an artery becomes inflamed and then ruptures. The blood clot forms quickly in the artery and blocks blood flow. This can cause damage to some of the heart muscle. The affected tissue of the heart can die without prompt treatment and the heart may experience permanent damage. Heart attacks are the second leading cause for death in Singapore.
- Heart failure
Heart failure is when your heart stops pumping enough blood to your body. High blood pressure and coronary artery disease can cause your heart to weaken over time. This could eventually lead to heart failure. Heart failure can cause breathlessness, fatigue, swelling of the legs and even death.
- Expanded left heart
Left ventricular hypertrophy refers to an enlarged left heart muscle. This is caused by thickening the walls of your left ventricle (which is the main pumping chamber of your heart). High blood pressure can make the left ventricle work harder than it should. This causes the wall of the chamber to thicken and the muscle tissue to become thicker, leading to an enlarged left side. This condition is common in people with uncontrolled high blood pressure and can increase the risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
What can you do to lower your blood pressure?
These are some additional steps that can be taken to manage your risk and condition.
- Healthy eating habits and a healthy weight are key to achieving optimum health.
Your blood pressure can be reduced by eating a healthy diet rich in vegetables and low in sugar, salt, and processed foods. Based on clinical trials, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), diet is high in fruits and vegetables, with less sodium, and lower fat. It has been shown to reduce blood pressure in just a few days. Every kilogram you lose will lower your blood pressure by approximately 1mmHg if you are overweight.
- Get regular exercise
Regular exercise strengthens your heart, which helps lower blood pressure. You should aim to exercise for 150 minutes per week. Prioritize aerobic (cardio), activities of moderate intensity. Talk to your doctor about the best exercise plan for you.
- Regularly screen your heart
High blood pressure can indicate a higher risk of developing heart disease. A preventive screening for heart disease is a great way to detect hidden risks. As you work with your doctor, commit to regular heart screenings in order to lower your blood pressure.