May The Month to Pay Attention to HBP
May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month. High blood pressure prevention and control is a major public health challenge. High Blood Pressure (HBP) can cause stroke, heart attack and other health issues which can lead to Long Term Health Care.
High Blood Pressure, also known as hypertension, is the leading risk factor for stroke and a major cause of morbidity and mortality according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
In the United States, nearly one in three adults has hypertension, but only about half (47%) of those have it under control. Hypertension is considered the “silent killer” because it can damage the heart, brain, and kidneys without any symptoms. Each day in the United States, nearly 1,000 deaths are associated with hypertension.
National High Blood Pressure Education Month aims to save lives by increasing awareness and educating the public about cardiovascular risks and how to prevent them.
To control hypertension, patients can take medications as directed, measure their blood pressure, and eat a lower-sodium diet and more fruits and vegetables.
The health issues of uncontrolled or poorly controlled HBP are serious. These health complications not only can cause death but can cause issues which create the need for Long Term Health Care.
The Mayo Clinic notes some of these issues. They include artery damage and narrowing. HBP can damage the cells of your arteries' inner lining. That launches a cascade of events that make artery walls thick and stiff, a disease called arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
Fats from a person’s diet enter the bloodstream, pass through the damaged cells and collect to start atherosclerosis. These changes can affect arteries throughout the body, blocking blood flow to the heart, kidneys, brain, arms and legs. The damage can cause many problems, including chest pain (angina), heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, stroke, blocked arteries in a person’s legs or arms (peripheral artery disease), eye damage, and aneurysms.
Aneurysms are another problem created because of HBP. Over time, the constant pressure of blood moving through a weakened artery can cause a section of its wall to enlarge and form a bulge (aneurysm). This can potentially rupture and cause life-threatening internal bleeding. Aneurysms can form in any artery throughout the body, but they're most common in the aorta, the body's largest artery.
Damage to the brain is one of the areas that long term or poorly or uncontrolled HBP can create. These includes TIA’s (Transient ischemic attack) otherwise known as a mini-stroke.
A TIA is a brief, temporary disruption of blood supply to the brain. It's often caused by atherosclerosis or a blood clot — both of which can arise from HBP. A TIA is often a warning that a person is at risk of a full-blown stroke.
A stroke occurs when part of the brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients, causing brain cells to die. Many times the results of the stroke are not reversible and prevent a person from doing normal activities of daily living, speaking and even cause memory loss and death.
Dementia can be caused because of complications due to HBP. This brain disease results in problems with thinking, speaking, reasoning, memory, vision and movement. There are a number of causes of dementia. One cause, vascular dementia, can result from narrowing and blockage of the arteries that supply blood to the brain. It can also result from strokes caused by an interruption of blood flow to the brain. In either case, HBP may be the culprit.
Mild cognitive impairment is a transition stage between the changes in understanding and memory that come with aging and the more-serious problems caused by Alzheimer's disease. Like dementia, it can result from blocked blood flow to the brain when HBP damages arteries.
There are a number of kidney issues which occur due to HBP. All this means is many people ignore HBP or fail to have their blood pressure checked on a regular basis. The complications due to HBP result with many more health issues and Long Term Care issues which many fail to understand.
The CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention focuses on promoting cardiovascular health and improving quality of care for all and eliminating disparities associated with heart disease and stroke.
People should get regular check-ups, monitor their blood pressure and plan for the financial costs and burdens of aging.
Additional information is available at the CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure and http://www.cdc.gov/stroke.