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Understanding hypertension, known as the 'silent killer' | Wear The Gown

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can lead to life-threatening medical conditions.

SAN ANTONIO — From COVID to the winter storm last week, there have certainly been plenty of factors to raise our blood pressure, aside from personal health conditions.. 

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is called the silent killer because many who have it have no idea they could have been walking around with it for years.

"Hypertension can affect you in many bad ways such as a stroke. It can lead to heart attacks. It can lead to kidney failure, and the list is long," said Dr. Ildiko Agoston who is a cardiologist with University Health, and a Professor of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio. She says just like your temperature, you should always have an idea of what your blood pressure is no matter what your age." Dr. Agoston added, "Every adult should know what their blood pressure is and everybody should check their blood pressure at least once in a while."

Some of the symptoms of hypertension which are often unrecognized include headaches, tension in your neck, shortness of breath, chest pain, and changes in your vision. So what is considered normal? Dr. Agoston told us, "120 over 80 has been determined by the most recent guidelines to be the acceptable upper limit of normal blood pressure, and once you start seeing numbers above that consistently like a day after day after day that means you are in a pre-hypertension zone."

Those most at risk for hypertension are those who are overweight or obese, not being physically active, having too much salt in your diet, drinking too much alcohol, and having a family history of hypertension. But if you do end up with high blood pressure there are ways to fix it. Dr. Agoston said, "Weight loss and giving up salt, giving up caffeine or caffeinated beverages, is definitely the way to help with your blood pressure."

But if those lifestyle changes do not fix your blood pressure you need to see a healthcare professional who may put you on medication.