Should I worry about high blood pressure?

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the major causes of death and disability today.. Though it is often initially asymptomatic, hypertension is implicated in significantly increased risks for stroke, heart attack, heart failure, aortic aneurysm, and kidney failure.  Minimizing these risks makes blood pressure control extremely important especially because it is relatively easy.

Typically hypertension is diagnosed by two BP readings greater than 140/90 or one greater than 180. Often these measurements have only been taken at the doctor’s office before medication is started. This is not always optimal since many patients experience ‘white coat hypertension’. This is high blood pressure that occurs only when visiting their doctor. It is recommended that a hypertension diagnosis be confirmed with a 24 hour ambulatory blood pressure monitor. This device will measure your BP at regular intervals during the day and night and provide you and your doctor a complete picture of your BP.   

If you have hypertension, regular exercise remains the best treatment, however even the best athlete is not immune. Untreated hypertension may still be preventing you from maximizing your potential or even putting you at risk.

References:

Kaplan, Norman, MD and Raymond Townsend, MD, Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring an dwhite coat hypertension in adults, UpToDate,

JNC-8 Panel. 2014 evidence-based guideline for the management of high blood pressure in adults. JAMA 2014; 311:507-520.