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High Blood Pressure... The Silent Killer

By Tracy Hansen, APRN, FNP

Why do we check blood pressure every time you come to Murray County Medical Center? Because if it is elevated, we want to catch and treat early, before it wreaks havoc on some super important internal organs! We refer to high blood pressure as the silent killer (sounds morbid, I know), but really, even though you feel absolutely great, the high pressures in your pipes may be silently sabotaging the function of your heart, brain, eyes, kidneys, and even causing sexual dysfunction!

I am going to get a little nerdy and talk about how and why your pressures venture north. You can think of your blood pressure as a product of different variables consisting of a pump (your heart), pipes (your blood vessels), and the stuff inside the pump and pipes (your blood). If some of the things listed below go haywire, the result is higher blood pressure:

1. Pipes get narrow or stiff (we call this increased vascular resistance)

2. More volume (i.e blood) in your pipes

3. Increased number of pumps (heart rate) or increased amount of fluid pushed out by the pump (we refer to this as stroke volume)

So why do we care? Remember in the first part I said high blood pressure can cause damage to important organs. Below are some of the consequences of untreated high blood pressure:

1. Heart failure: when the heart has to constantly pump against a high resistance system, it tends to tucker out overtime.

2. Kidney disease: When the kidneys of constantly under a high pressure, damage occurs to our filtration system which may eventually lead to dialysis.

3. Vision loss: We have a network of very small vessels in our eyes, when these are under lots of tension, we can lose visual acuity or go blind.

4. Increased risk of stroke: high pressure in the vessels in our brain can cause them to burst or clog more easily, leading to higher stroke risk.

5. Sexual disfunction: higher pressures can cause erectile dysfunction in men and women to experience lower libido.


Yikes! What can I do to prevent the effects of high blood pressure?

One of the things you can do it to get screened regularly (at least 1x/year), other lifestyle factors which will contribute to controlling and maintaining blood pressure at a safe level include exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, increasing fruits and vegetables, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol use.

For more information or to make an appointment with myself or another provider at MCMC to discuss blood pressure call 507-836-6153.

For more information on blood pressure visit: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/health-threats-from-high-blood-pressure