High blood pressure can be harmful to your health if left untreated.

Blood pressure is the amount of pressure placed on the walls of your arteries and veins as blood passes through the body (Singh, Shankar, & Singh, 2017). Arteries and veins carry blood through the body. As the heart beats, blood is pushed through the arteries and veins. This is called blood pressure.

High blood pressure occurs when the blood moves through the arteries and veins at a higher pressure than normal. Blood pressure that remains high can cause harm to arteries and veins (Singh et al., 2017).

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), 1 in 3 adults in South Carolina has high blood pressure.

Many people who have high blood pressure do not realize it. High blood pressure has been labeled the “silent killer,” because it has no warning signs (Halladay et al., 2017). Without warning signs, many people do not get care (Halladay et al., 2017).

Untreated high blood pressure can cause strokes, heart attacks and even death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 7 of every 10 people who have had a heart attack or heart failure also have high blood pressure (CDC, 2017). As well, 8 of every 10 people who have had a stroke also have high blood pressure (CDC, 2017).

High blood pressure can affect anyone. Certain reasons can add to your risk of having high blood pressure. Reasons include smoking, diet, low physical activity, overweight, race, stress, high alcohol use and certain medicines (Singh et al., 2017). The good news is that high blood pressure can be avoided and treated with healthy, life changes. Healthy changes can keep blood pressure from causing harm to your body (Singh et al., 2017). These changes include:

>> Stop smoking.

>> Eat a healthy diet.

>> Exercise.

>> Avoid stress.

>> Avoid high alcohol use.

If your blood pressure is caused by other reasons such as medications, you should talk to your doctor or nurse practitioner. He or she might be able to change the medication or use other ways to lower the blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, the overall goal is to manage the blood pressure. Managing the blood pressure will lower your risk of stroke or heart attack (Singh et al., 2017).

Managing blood pressure is a long-term task. You will always need to have regular blood pressure checks, eat healthy foods, exercise and lower stress. By doing this, you are lowering the risk of harm to your health (Singh et al., 2017).

Even if you do not have blood pressure problems, you should consider lifestyle changes and get blood pressure screenings to lower your risk of having high blood pressure. For more information, visit cdc.gov/bloodpressure/index.htm.

KEITH KING

Francis Marion University

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