Did you know that hypertension is the leading risk factor for death in developed countries? It even ranks ahead of smoking! In Canada, slightly more than 20% of adults over the age of 20 suffer from hypertension. In people 60 and over, this number climbs above 50%.
What is hypertension?
Hypertension, commonly called “high blood pressure,” occurs when the blood exerts excessive force against the walls of the arteries. Since it rarely presents any symptoms, hypertension can often go unnoticed for some time, all the while causing harm to the organs. This, in turn, can lead to the development of potentially fatal diseases, which is why it has been nicknamed the “silent killer.”
Hypertension will wear you down!
Hypertension weakens the arteries and makes the heart work harder. As a result, it prematurely wears down the arterial vessels and cardiac muscle. Over time, this deterioration leads to the poor circulation of blood to body tissues and a decreased supply of oxygen and nutrients to the cells.
Consequently, hypertension compromises the proper functioning of several organs and contributes to the onset of various problems:
- Heart: atherosclerosis, heart failure, heart attacks (myocardial infarction)
- Kidneys: kidney failure
- Brain: strokes (cerebrovascular accidents), dementia
- Eyes: retinopathy (disease of the retina)
Causes of hypertension
Hypertension is not due to a single cause, but rather to a combination of factors.
- Aging plays a role, since blood pressure tends to increase naturally starting at age 55.
- Certain health conditions and poor lifestyle habits increase the risk of hypertension:
- Genetics (heredity) are also involved: people with a family history of hypertension and North Americans of African descent have been found more likely to develop high blood pressure.
Symptoms of hypertension
As previously mentioned, hypertension usually doesn’t cause any symptoms. But while rare, symptoms can occur, especially if blood pressure readings are extremely high. Here are a few possible signs:
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- General malaise
If you experience these symptoms, take your blood pressure right away. If it is very high (for instance, above 180/110 mm Hg), you should seek immediate medical attention.
If you have hypertension, it is extremely important for you to get it under control. If you are having problems reaching the targets set by your health care provider, speak with your family pharmacists. They can help you reach your goals by giving you the right advice and suggesting changes to your drug therapy, if needed.
Many Uniprix-affiliated pharmacies also offer a blood pressure monitoring service and private follow-up consultations. Ask about these services. You might also want to consider buying your own blood pressure monitor to let you closely track your numbers at home.
*Certain conditions must be respected. Fees may apply. Ask a member of the pharmacy team for more information. Pharmacists alone are responsible for the practice of pharmacy. They offer related services only on behalf of pharmacist-owners.