CINCINNATI—Almost 67 million Americans have high blood pressure—some cases are purely brought on by genetics; others develop because of bad habits.
However, Veer Patel, DO, an adjunct instructor in the division of general internal medicine and a UC Health primary care physician who sees patients in Montgomery, says there are treatments for both groups of patients and that the sooner high blood pressure is discovered, the better the outcome.
"There are a number of dangers surrounding high blood pressure, including stroke, heart attack, aneurysms, bleeding within the brain, diabetes, kidney damage, pulmonary hypertension and heart failure—all serious conditions,” he says, adding that that while oftentimes people develop hypertension because of genetics, the condition can occur due to poor habits, including lack of exercise, eating salty, fatty and fried foods or smoking.
"In addition, oral contraceptives, steroids and other medications, like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can cause high blood pressure. Also, some rarer medical conditions and some not-so-rare conditions, like sleep apnea, can also cause hypertension.
"It’s dangerous because patients often don’t experience symptoms until the blood pressure is out of control or another health problem arises. However, there are symptoms to look for.”
· Chronic headaches.
· Vision changes or blurry vision.
· Chest pain.
· Shortness of breath.
· Fluid in the legs.
· Heart palpitations.
Patel says if a patient experiences any of these symptoms, he or she should see a doctor immediately.
"It’s important to catch precursory conditions, like high blood pressure, before they lead to more serious ailments,” he says. "There are treatments that can help, including several medications to help control hypertension, like diuretics, beta blockers and calcium channel blockers. Patients can also help control their hypertension by reducing their dietary salt intake, weight loss, avoiding fattening or fried foods, exercising and eliminating smoking and alcohol.
"We as physicians want our patients to be at optimal health. By taking preventive measures and addressing chronic conditions, like hypertension, it increases chances of a happier, healthier life.”