Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a chronic condition in which your blood pressure levels remain elevated. Your blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more your heart pumps and the more resistant your arteries are, the higher your blood pressure will be. If you are overweight or have been battling obesity, you are more likely to develop hypertension because you have higher levels of fatty tissues that increase your resistance to blood flow and cause your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body.
Symptoms of Hypertension
In most cases, people with hypertension do not show symptoms. However some symptoms may include:
- Dull headaches
- Dizzy spells
- Excessive nosebleeds
Even if you do have hypertension, it is unlikely that these symptoms will occur in the early stages. They usually only occur when the hypertension is at a severe, and possibly life threatening stage.
How do I know if I Am at Risk for Hypertension?
Risk factors involved with developing hypertension include:
- Age (older age increases your chances of high blood pressure)
- Family history of high blood pressure
- Using tobacco (smoking, chewing, etc.)
- High levels of sodium
- Low levels of potassium
- Low levels of vitamin D
- Heavy drinking for a prolonged amount of time
Certain chronic conditions like high cholesterol, diabetes or sleep apnea also increase your chances of developing hypertension.
The Dangers of Untreated Hypertension
- Heart Attack and Stroke. Hardening of the arteries can lead to heart disease or other serious complications.
- Aneurysm. This occurs when a weakened blood vessel begins to bulge. If an aneurysm were to rupture, it could be fatal.
- Heart Failure. Hypertension can cause your heart muscle to thicken, making it more difficult to pump blood properly throughout your body. This can then lead to heart failure.
- Weak and narrow blood vessels in your kidneys. The damaged blood vessels hinder the function of the organs to where they stop removing wastes and excess fluid from the body.
- Weak, narrow or torn blood vessels in your eyes. This can lead to blindness.
- Metabolic syndrome. This is a cluster of conditions including high triglycerides, high insulin levels and high blood pressure.
- Memory loss and confusion. Untreated, prolonged hypertension can affect normal brain function and memory.
If you are overweight or obese, you are already at an increased risk for many of the above conditions. Checking your blood pressure regularly is a beneficial and proactive idea so that you will not further increase your chances of developing a serious heart condition.
If your doctor does diagnose you with hypertension, treatment will most likely include medications and lifestyle changes. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy diet are important steps to treating hypertension. If you are struggling with obesity and have recently been diagnosed with hypertension, you may want to look into weight loss options such as the LAP-BAND procedure, which is a non-invasive weight loss option that can lower your risk of obesity-related disease. Bariatric surgery is an effective solution to obesity and can help regulate your blood pressure. It is important to take the proper steps to reduce hypertension so that you can avoid other serious complications.