q Why is High Blood Pressure Called a Silent Killer? - Harcourt Health

Why is High Blood Pressure Called a Silent Killer?

29% of Americans have high blood pressure, which means between you and two other adults, one of you probably has this condition. But you might not even know you have high blood pressure; many times, there’s no signs or symptoms.

Because of this, it’s also known as a “silent killer.” Read on to find out more about high blood pressure, the dangers of it, and what you can do to lead a healthier life.

What Is High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure is a condition that’s also known as HBP or hypertension. When you measure your blood pressure, you get two numbers: a systolic number, and a diastolic number. These are the high and low numbers when measuring.

Ideally, your blood systolic number should be less than 120 and your diastolic should be less than 80. Anything over 130 for systolic and over 80 for diastolic means you have hypertension. Numbers reading over 180 (systolic) and over 120 (diastolic) mean you need immediate medical attention.

There are two types of high blood pressure: primary and secondary.

Primary Hypertension

With primary hypertension, there’s usually no main culprit leading to this condition, besides time. This type takes many years to eventually be detectable.

It’s thought that your genetics, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and poor choices in food leads to primary hypertension. However, there’s no way to tell exactly which one caused you to develop this condition.

Secondary Hypertension

Secondary hypertension is so called because it’s a condition that’s brought on by a tangible cause. Because of this, the onset of this type is usually very quick and sudden.

For example, you may develop secondary hypertension all of a sudden because you started a new medication. Or you may develop this issue because you have kidney, adrenal gland, or thyroid problems. Over-the-counter, prescribed, and illegal drugs can all cause secondary hypertension too.

Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure

While you can’t predict whether or not you’ll get hypertension, there are some factors that may put you more at risk, such as:

  • Ethnicity: Hypertension is more commonly seen in people with African backgrounds
  • Age: The older you are, the higher your chances of having high blood pressure.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: The more you exercise, the lower your heart rate will be. A higher heart rate means more work for your heart.
  • Bad diet: If you eat too much salt and too little potassium, it can raise your blood pressure.
  • Smoking and drinking: Tobacco temporarily raises your blood pressure and also damages your arteries. Drinking will damage your heart too.
  • Stress: A high enough level of stress can temporarily raise your blood pressure.
  • Some pre-existing conditions: These include sleep apnea, kidney disease, and diabetes.

Dangers of High Blood Pressure

If you let your hypertension go untreated, then there may be some health risks involved. We’ll go into more detail below.


Your blood vessels can become weak; if they do, then they’ll bulge, which is what an aneurysm is. If this bulge bursts, then there’s the risk of death.


The blood vessels in your eyes can either tear, thicken, or narrow. Any of these three conditions can obstruct your vision.

Sleep Apnea and Heart Attack

Sleep apnea and heart attack are two very serious things linked to high blood pressure. Regularly, your blood pressure drops when you sleep. However, sleep apnea can cause a rise in blood pressure instead.

When you have higher blood pressure while sleeping, this can bleed into your daily life, and eventually lead to always-elevated blood pressure. When your blood pressure is always high, you have a significantly higher chance of having a heart attack.

Abnormal Metabolism

High blood pressure can cause your body’s metabolism to become abnormal. This can not only increase your waist size, but also lowered amounts of “good” cholesterol, higher levels of insulin, and higher amounts of triglycerides.

All of these factors combined can increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Diminished Mental Capabilities

If your hypertension is untreated, you can start having trouble with your memory and understanding things.

If serious enough, you can even develop vascular dementia, which can also result from a stroke. This is because your arteries have trouble pumping blood to your brain.

How to Fight Hypertension

As you can see, there are many serious conditions related to hypertension, and there’s almost no way to detect it. Some people may experience headaches or nosebleeds, but most people with high blood pressure don’t have any symptoms until it’s too late. Here are some ways to fight against hypertension.

Eat Healthily

Make sure you eat plenty of vegetables and fruit. Also, try avoiding eating fried foods. Other things to lower or eliminate from your diet are sugar, sodium, and fats.

If you drink alcohol, avoid doing it regularly and keep it to only a few units when you do drink.

Exercise Regularly

When you do physical activity, you build up your heart’s muscles. The more muscles it has, the less work it has to do to pump blood. By lowering your heart rate, you lower your blood pressure too,

Stay Within a Healthy Weight Range

Being overweight raises your risk for a number of diseases and disorders, including high blood pressure. If you can maintain a healthy weight, not only do you eliminate hypertension, but other health problems as well.

Avoid This Silent Killer

Since high blood pressure can have no symptoms, it can creep up on you and have serious consequences on your health. Don’t wait until it’s too late; avoid this silent killer and get regular checkups to make sure your blood pressure is in the normal range.

Want to create a healthier environment for you and your family? Then read this blog article on 5 ways to build a healthier home.