High blood pressure goes by many names such as hypertension, elevated blood pressure and HTN. However, no matter what you call it, high blood pressure is a common diagnosis for many Americans. According to recent guidelines high blood pressure is when repeated readings show systolic blood pressure (SBP) is ≥140 mm Hg and/or diastolic blood pressure (DBP) is ≥90 mm Hg.1
Did you know:
- Elevated blood pressure is a serious medical condition that greatly increases the risks of heart, brain, kidney injuries and other diseases.
- About 1.13 billion people worldwide have hypertension
- In 2015, 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women had high blood pressure.
- Less than 1 in 5 people with hypertension have the problem under control.
- Hypertension is a major cause of premature death worldwide and is one of the most common chronic medical conditions.2
Who is at risk?
Some risk factors for hypertension are controllable. This means you are able to chose to engage in risk factors. One alterable risk factor is diet. Those who indulge in unhealthy diets increase their risk of getting hypertension. Some unhealthy diets are diets high in salt, high saturated and trans fat, and low intake of fruits and veggies. Additionally, those who are physically inactive, overweight or obese. Lastly, a modifiable risk is the consumption of tobacco and/or alcohol.
However, there are uncontrollable factors that increase the risk of high blood pressure. This includes a family history of hypertension, age over 65 years and having another disease.
What happens when hypertension is not controlled?
Uncontrolled hypertension causes serious damage to the heart! High pressure can harden arteries. Then, hardened arteries causes less blood and oxygen to flow to the heart.3 Decreased blood and oxygen can cause heart injury and progress into other conditions such as:
- Chest pain (Angina)
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Irregular heart beat which can lead to a sudden death.
What are the symptoms of hypertension?
Hypertension is known as a “silent killer”. That being said, most people are unaware they have it. They will disregard the warning signs and symptoms until it gets worse. So don’t go breaking your heart…. quite literally! Be aware of sign and symptoms.
Some early symptoms include:
- Early morning headaches
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Vision changes
- Buzzing in the ears.
However, severe hypertension may have more obvious symptoms. This can be fatigue, nausea, vomiting, confusion, anxiety, chest pain and muscle tremors.
What can your physical therapist do for you?
Physical therapists are experts in exercise! Physical therapists can create exercise programs to decrease the risk of or control high blood pressure. In fact, exercise training is very effective in controlling blood pressure without medications. But, how can exercise help? Earlier we classified being overweight as a controllable risk factor. Exercising can help you lose weight and cause your heart to pump against less resistance. When you exercise you push your heart to work harder. As a result, pushing your heart makes it stronger. This is important because a stronger heart works less at rest. A strong heart needs less pressure to pump blood, thus decreasing blood pressure.4
A physical therapist can do more than just prescribe an exercise program. Physical therapists are trained to closely monitor heart rate and blood pressure during your session. In sum, if you’d like to make a change and start decreasing your blood pressure, call us today!
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Call or check out more on how physical therapy can help with other common diseases. New Jersey has direct access which means you can come see us without seeing your doctor! We can see you quicker than you could get in to see the doctor, while also saving you both time and money!
Please, call us to schedule your evaluation at one of BeneFIT’s locations, Bridgewater (908.203.5200) or Chester (908.879.5700) with one of our highly trained Doctors of Physical Therapy!
2Severin, R., Sabbahi, A., Albarrati, A., Phillips, S. A., & Arena, S. (2020). Blood Pressure Screening by Outpatient Physical Therapists: A Call to Action and Clinical Recommendations. Physical therapy, 100(6), 1008–1019. https://doi.org/10.1093/ptj/pzaa034
3 WHO Hypertension Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hypertension
4Frese, E. M., Fick, A., & Sadowsky, H. S. (2011). Blood pressure measurement guidelines for physical therapists. Cardiopulmonary physical therapy journal, 22(2), 5–12.