Surprising facts about high blood pressure
High blood pressure affects 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. although many people don’t even know they have it. When your blood pressure is high, it may not cause any symptoms but it can raise your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Keeping your blood pressure under control is one of the best ways to keep your heart healthy. While you may know about the connection between blood pressure and your heart health, here are a few surprising facts you may not know:
- Even young people can have high blood pressure. Age is a risk factor for high blood pressure (the older you are, the higher your risk), but you don’t have to be old to have it. In fact, about 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women between the ages of 35 and 44 has high blood pressure. Since high blood pressure often has no symptoms, you should get your blood pressure checked at least once a year even if you feel fine.
- Women have unique risks related to high blood pressure. Some types of birth control can raise the risk for high blood pressure. Women who develop preeclampsia during pregnancy have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure later in life. Additionally, women with high blood pressure who become pregnant may be at an increased risk for complications during pregnancy.
- Your ethnicity may affect your risk. African Americans have higher rates of high blood pressure than all other ethnic groups. This may be due in part to hereditary factors, but is also related to lifestyle factors, such as higher rates of obesity.
- Your blood pressure can be affected by what you eat. Sodium in your diet can raise your blood pressure, so reduce your intake of salt to help control blood pressure. Potassium helps relax arterial walls, which can help lower your blood pressure.
- Your blood pressure can vary from reading to reading. Many factors can influence your blood pressure reading, from the arm it’s taken in to the time of day. That’s why you need to rely on a series of readings, not just one, to determine if your blood pressure is high, low or in the normal range.